Get Straight Married For Fun and Profit
9:45 am, April 2nd | by Sarah Devlin
With the Supreme Court hearing arguments in favor of striking down Prop 8, California’s ban on gay marriage (and the possible repeal of DOMA), we took a look at some of the many federal benefits conferred upon straight married couples by the government, just in time for tax season!
Sarah: Well, one thing that I’ve realized is that I need to get married ASAP. For the sake of my personal finances, if nothing else. Gotta get them benefits!
Colette: I didn’t realize that the government be doling out all these tax cuts for married folks. I need to get my marital status in order.
Colette: 1,138 benefits, rights and protections, in fact.
Sarah: SO MANY TAX CUTS. The tax code is really a window into what our society values, right? Property ownership, marriage, procreation.
Colette: Oooh, well put! I never thought of it that way, but you are right.
Sarah: It’s all in there! And Illuminati secrets, I am sure.
Colette: If you want to know where our priorities are in this country, just follow the money. No, the Illuminati secrets are in Beyoncé’s archive. (They have to be there — they are really susceptible to temperature changes.)
Sarah: I see a parallel here with the NY Mag “Retro Wife” story we were talking about.
Colette: How so?
Sarah: People keep trying to make the question of “should gay marriage be legal” a problem of ideology…but it’s really tied up with money. And for some reason that doesn’t get talked about so much.
Colette: Yeah, looking into the economics of marriage really clarifies the difference between a civil union and a marriage.
Sarah: I mean of course it’s about being able to have a wedding and visiting your wife/hubby in the hospital, but also there’s a real monetary cost to being in a domestic partnership!
Colette: Absolutely — you’re trapped in this strange limbo where the state recognizes your relationship but the federal government doesn’t. That has wide-ranging implications for taxes, healthcare, you name it.
Sarah: I was shocked about the cost to employers when they provide benefits to domestic partners. It’s almost like they get dinged for supporting it, because the tax code doesn’t give them the same breaks it does for providing benefits to hetero couples.
Colette: With that in mind, I’m surprised that so many big name employers continue to support domestic partnerships! I know that sounds cynical, but it just isn’t cost effective.
Sarah: They’re really putting their money where their mouths are. Perfect metaphor?
Colette: Hahaha. Perfect metaphor.
I found the code as it pertains to children pretty devastating.
Sarah: Yes! Let’s talk about that.
Colette: The fact that you could be supporting a child that you consider your own, but then according to the government your relationship doesn’t fit the “definition” of a parent-child relationship.
Colette: I mean, we wonder why we are locked into these two-parent/nuclear familial structures! It’s built into how we make/receive money! That has massive repercussions for hetero couples as well!
Sarah: It’s a pretty clear window into exactly how the deck gets stacked in favor of straight people who get married and have biological children together.
Sarah: It’s the very definition of “institutional oppression”
Colette: We can have all the arguments we want about childcare in this country, but it’s hard to dismantle something that is even built into how we tax people in this country.
Colette: I just think it’s so unfortunate that we have such a rigid definition of what “family” is.
Sarah: Agreed — and after reading that I can’t imagine that people will be able to argue that civil unions/DPs are equivalent to federally recognized marriages much longer. I wanted to ask, though — how does this make you feel about getting married, personally?
Sarah: Because not only is there a social cost to being a woman who doesn’t get married, there’s a financial cost as well. But then also, if you get married and have kids, you have to deal with people assuming you’re on “the mommy track.” We can’t win!
“We Can’t Win: The Story of Womankind”
The glass is always half-empty for ladies and we’re the ones expected to re-fill said glass. I’ve always had a complicated relationship to the institution of marriage. (I’ve taken some women’s studies courses, OK?) But, after reading all these facts, it just seems like it’s the smartest thing to do, you know? Ugh, and I HATE saying that. But really, it seems to be the only way you can protect yourself, your loved one, and your finances.
Sarah: Right. Like, if you’re in a relationship and you’re in it for life, you are costing yourself $$$ by being one of those people who says “It’s just a piece of paper!” Unless you are Brangelina, you can’t afford it. So you heard it here first: “Everyone get married, NOW!” – The Jane Dough
BRB, taking the rest of the day to find a husband.
Signed, The Jane Dough and Your Mother
Sarah: Yeah, exactly.
Colette: We’re both worried about you and have this friend you should meet…
Sarah: *Pulls mask off* It was Mom the whole time!
Colette: So many twists! I always knew M. Night Shyamalan was behind this!
On another note, I also didn’t realize just how much the tax code is weighted in favor of homeowners.
I knew there was some of that going on, but jeez! Deductions left and right, especially if you are buying and selling property.
Colette: Is that why “flipping houses” is such a trend? IS THAT WHY? Someone explain Jeff Lewis to me.
Sarah: Well, that’s probably part of it. Probably responsible for about 7% of the crazy
Colette: It seems like the ideal American couple is straight, owns a home, and has children. Parents get ALL THE TAX CUTS. Not that I’m suggesting that they shouldn’t….I’ve seen the price of diapers.
Sarah: Haha. That’s true! Those benefits are great if you have kids.
Colette: But does someone who cares for an elderly relative get similar benefits? I ask but I actually know nothing about this stuff.
Sarah: Gooood question. Probably not? We don’t have that kind of culture here.
Colette: It just all goes back to how tax codes reify particular relationships. And doesn’t anyone think that’s a problem? If we fostered larger, extended childcare structures, just imagine how many more women would be out there in the workforce, kicking asses, and giving business cards!
Sarah: Man. Now I’m sad. Have you done your taxes yet? I’m glad I did mine before reading this so I didn’t have to feel extra bad about not being wifed up. THINK OF THE MONEY I COULD SAVE. (And then blow on a really absurdly expensive wedding.)
I actually haven’t. (Because I’m the worst.) But maybe that’s a good thing! Now I can scoot off to Atlantic City, find a beau, and get me some sweet sweet tax cuts.
Sarah: Yeah. You have until April 15th. Shouldn’t be a problem.
Colette: That’s what alcohol is for. As I always say, “If Britney could do it, I can do it.”
Sarah: Should we end on that inspirational note?
Colette: I mean, that IS as meaningful as I am gonna get.
[Photo via Shutterstock]