Reporter's Notebook

Why Should Married People Get Extra Support?
Show Description +

Readers debate the question and related ones. Join them via

Show None Newer Notes

Why Should Married People Get Extra Support? Cont'd

A reader, Yvonne, just came across our discussion thread that questions why married couples should get more support than single people, including legal things like tax breaks and cultural things like wedding gifts:

This is something that has bothered me for the past few years and I’ve started to argue with organizations over it. For example, some museum memberships have an individual rate and a family rate. When the family rate covers two adults and children, why is the price not at least the cost of two individuals? It should at least cost 2.5 X the individual rate. Belonging to some organizations costs less per person if you are a couple. Why? Couples already save on rent, electricity, even phone plans.

When I talk to these organizations (and some I have quit belonging to) I ask, “Why do you discriminate against single people?” They will often say they don't, but I insist, “Yes you do, so why?”

I also don’t understand when people are asked how long they’ve been together they say “we’ve been married ten years” when they were together three years before that. Do those three initial years not count?I am in a long-term relationship (six or seven years) with someone I don’t want to live with and I don’t want to marry. I like living alone. I don’t think I should be penalized for that choice.

I do agree that there should be subsidies for children. If a married couple has kids, fine, give a tax break to them. But just the simple act of being married does not deserve any tax savings.

Another reader, Simon, thinks of the children less begrudgingly than Yvonne does:

To find out, fill out this really quick interactive form created by FiveThirtyEight’s Ritchie King for last year’s tax season. A reader just flagged it for our debate over whether married people should get more support than single people, adding: “Not all people benefit from being married; depending on your circumstances, you will actually pay more taxes”—specifically, an estimated 38 percent of couples, according to economists James Alm and J. Sebastian Leguizamon.