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Veto override fails in House on marriage-penalty tax relief

WASHINGTON (BP)–The U.S. House of Representatives failed Sept. 13 to override President Clinton’s veto of legislation to remedy the penalty for married couples in the federal tax code.

The House voted 270-158 for the Marriage Tax Relief Reconciliation Act but fell short of the two-thirds majority necessary to override a veto. The failure was expected. Neither the Senate nor the House achieved a two-thirds majority when it gave final passage to the bill in July.

The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and other pro-family organizations supported the bill, describing it as a matter of tax fairness. ERLC President Richard Land said the current tax code adds to the “already significant hardships on the family” by penalizing married couples.

Under the tax code’s current provisions, about 25 million married couples pay a yearly average of about $1,400 more in taxes than they would if they lived together without being married

The bill would have alleviated the inequity by raising the standard deduction for married couples to twice the deduction for people filing as singles. It also would have expanded the 15 percent tax bracket for married couples to twice as much as for single taxpayers, beginning in 2003 and phased in during a five-year period. The bill would have increased by $2,000 the amount a married couple may earn under earned income tax credit.

Clinton and his Democratic allies favored targeting lower-income families with relief rather than eliminating the marriage penalty in the more comprehensive manner of the congressionally approved proposal.

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