marriage matters

Who’s Excited About Obama’s $800 Tax Credit?! (Heterosexual Married Couples, That’s Who)

As Republicans work their witchcraft to secure what looks like a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts — which will keep tax rates lower for all income brackets, not just the super rich, mind you — President Obama has managed his own coup (or compromise, depending how you read it): an extension of jobless benefits for the unemployed. Oh, and that 2009-era “Making Work Pay” tax credit that lets individuals knock $400 off their tax bill, and married couples $800 if they file together (and so long as they earn less than $75,000 or $150,000, respectively). Wait. Does that mean gays aren’t actually getting screwed from the DOMA-inflicted discrminatory tax code? Haha, of course we are.

At first glance it doesn’t look like married heterosexuals really receive any advantage, since the tax credit still works out to $400 per person whether the filers are individuals or couples.

Until you consider that since gay couples are forced to file federal returns separately, if both of them earn more than $75k both people are disqualified from the $400 credit. But married couples where one person earns, say, $80k and the other earns $25k will be eligible for the full $800 subsidy if they file together, since their combined income is less than the $150,000 cut-off; gay couples in that scenario would get just $400.

The same discrimination true if one married partner earns $148,000 and the other earns $1,000: Because the federal government recognizes their union, the married pair gets to split the difference, and their $149,000 total income becomes eligible for $800 in savings. Again, a gay couple in the exact same situation would get only $400 in tax credits.

So poorer gay couples can still take full advantage of the credits individually, but “middle class” gay couples are screwed.

Where is certified public accountant Melissa Etheridge when I need her?

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  • robert in nyc

    As if Obama or any democrat let alone republican give a shit about gay couples getting less. They don’t give a damn and that will always be the case. Selfish, self-serving bastards on both sides of the aisle, including Obama.

  • Jim Hlavac

    Oh yes, Robert in NYC — vote all these folks out. I agree on that. Meanwhile, Obama is no more pro-gay than John McCain — he just says it more nicely.

  • SteveC

    Obama is a homophobic bigot. He may not spew the venomous hatred of the Republicans, but his actions remain those of a bigot.

  • Brutus

    @Jim Hlavac: I don’t see McCain making speeches in favor of civil unions or repealing DADT.

  • Joe

    Brutus: are you so naive to believe in Obama still? It is all lip service.

  • jak

    Obama’s such a fool/tool. He ain’t gonna get squat for caving so soon to the Repugs.

  • Michael

    Obama is taking a bad deal on the Bush tax cuts so Congress can use the last few weeks of this session on, among other things, DADT repeal. Does anyone else care about that or see the importance of that development?

  • robert in nyc

    Even if Obama caves in on extending tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% and probably will because he’s never had any backbone to draw a line in the sand, then there’s no guarantee DADT will pass in this session. The GOP could still filibuster it because the majority of them don’t want it repealed.

  • Dave

    Your math is off. Yes, some gay (and straight unmarried) couples are disadvantaged by this, but a couple with one person over $75k and one under gets $400, not $0 — the person under $75k still gets their cut.

    On the other hand, an unmarried couple where both partners earn $150k+ combined with one <$75k still gets $400 while a similar married couple would get $0 if they filed jointly. (Of course, they don't *have* to file jointly.)

    Here's a chart, if it helps:

    Both under 75k: $800 married, $800 unmarried
    One under 75k, combined under 150k: $800 married, $400 unmarried
    One under 75k, combined over 150k: $0 married, $400 unmarried
    Both over 75k: $0 married, $0 unmarried

  • Dave

    My point above being (whoops, I knew I was forgetting something) that some Christianist douchebag type could look at this tax cut and say it penalizes God-fearing married couples and, *if they only looked at one specific set of circumstances*, they’d be right. Obama’s trying to destroy the family, they’d cry, by forcing married people to choose between a $400 tax credit and filing jointly. Why, it’s a disincentive to marry! The godless heathens and the homos are trying to destroy our way of life!

    (And so on, only probably with lots more exclamation points.)

    Which is why it’s silly to make blanket statements about a tax cut based on one particular set of circumstances.

    Now, the bigger issue here is of course that the tax code *in general* really does treat married couples more favourably. And that’s generally been held to be OK, that public policy tends to encourage marriage since it provides for stability, harmony, efficiency, yada yada yada. The real issue, though, is that marriage isn’t available to everyone who might want it — and *that’s* discriminatory.

    So yeah, this is at best a symptom of what we already know is wrong — that marriage law is itself discriminatory — and not some kind of purposeful slight on gay people in and of itself.

  • Cam


    Wow, the fact that you think favoring civil unions, a designation that by definition puts us on a less equal level, as a plus is scary.

    This isn’t the 90’s where saying you were for civil unions was seen as favoring gay rights. Now it just means you are behind the times.

  • Dollie

    So sick of this coward!
    Guess who is definitely not getting my vote next go around! I knew I registered Green for a reason…

  • David

    You’re all forgetting one very important case:

    same-sex couple in which one partner is long-term unemployed, has zero income, therefore is not paying any taxes and thus can’t get the $400. As a result, the couple gets at best $400 off, not $800.

  • Atlanta Joe

    You’re also wrong in your $149,000/$1000 split. The 149,000 earner would get zero. The 1000 earner would get NOT 400, but $62 whole dollars. In addition to income ceilings, there is also an earned income floor for receiving the full credit amount. Under the floor amount, the credit is only 6.2% of earned income. I work for the IRS.. and I’m here to help you.

  • Benjamin

    blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

  • bystander

    Now that the republican threat of filibustering everything if no agreement is made on tax cuts is over, will a DADT repeal come before the senate?

  • Brentinpdx

    We are fucked, the county is fucked, and our president Republican Obama… doesn’t care , cause he is too stupid or dense to figure out what or a lack of what, that he is doing to the American people. When we said that we wanted out country back and he was our best hope for change….he snowed us all with his wanting to change. He knew he couldn’t change anything… He knew we couldn’t have more of Bush.. but this late in the game, I would prefer the bumbling’s of the last idiot president compared to what will be coming down the pipeline next month.

    You think that we as gays are screwed now…just wait …It will not get better, it will get worse for us.

  • Alan

    he median family income in the US is under $60k a year. If a couple makes $150,000 a year I find it hard to be sympathetic for their awful plight. Some perspective is needed!

  • PatrickB

    @Michael: I’ll believe it when I see it. @Dollie: Stay registered as Democrat so you can vote for the better guy/gal in the primaries. If you don’t like the outcome, vote Green in the general. It’s a win/win.

  • Ugh

    Seriously.. the anti-Obama fervor on Queerty has become a little silly. Very few gay couples will be directly affected by this disparity in the tax credit and those that will are already making well over $75,000 a year. That’s hardly starving- even in this economy.

  • pete N sfo

    And the tax cuts will now expire in an election year, which means that Republicans will be able to campaign on the Dems implementing tax increases (letting the Bush cuts expire)

  • PatrickB

    “which will keep tax rates lower for all income brackets, not just the super rich, mind you”

    This misses the point. These tax cuts will force the government to cut essential service (Soc Sec, medicare, education. ect.) in the medium-term. Moreover, Obama and the Democrats stand for, if they stand for anything, a progressive income tax. Not only can a $200k/yr earner afford to pay a greater percent of his income, he should because, frankly, he’s benefiting more from a stable and healthy society than someone who makes the median income.

  • Heather

    Sure it’s unfair that rich straight people get a better tax break than rich gay people, but both partners making more than $75,000 each is hardly in touch with the “middle class”, most Americans or 99% of the rest of the world for that matter.

    As a selling point, I think it’s going to be tough to evoke much sympathy with that one.

  • damon459

    Sorry I don’t really care about the financial woes of couples gay or straight making 150K a yr. Seriously I’m on Disability living off less then then what that couple makes in a month so boo *uc*ing hoo for them. What is it with all these gay sites that think all gays are ubber rich with thousands of dollars in disposable income? I don’t know anyone who makes that kind of cash. Frankly I’m more worried about all those people who are unemployed and trying like hell to find any job to keep their heads above water, but leave it to Queerty to piss an moan over 400.00 do you think 400.00 makes any difference to someone making 3 times that in a week? It’s a compromise that isn’t even official yet and now I’m not totally happy with it but that’s what a compromise is.

  • Pat Duffy

    @damon459: The problem is that it’s NOT a compromise. If you’ve learned ANYTHING in the last couple of yrs, the Repugs will get Presidente Invertibrate to give in for their Votes and when it comes to the floor they Vote against it ANYWAY.
    After 40 yrs of being a Registered Dem I changed to Unaffiliated. I no longer Beleive the BS that NOT Voting Dem will Energise the Repugs and Christofascists….not when the same Dems you Vote for Bottom for their Repug Masters….

  • Lady

    LOL! President Invertebrate. That’s funny. Yeah, I second most folks here. I’ve been extremely slow to anger with Obama, but now I’m at the end of my rope. I don’t even make $400/mo right now and my job is seasonal, meaning I don’t know how I’m going to eat come mid-January.

  • IanPolloss

    Who cares, Most gay people are rich anyway so be happy for your tax break.

  • OrchidIslander

    Another ridiculous example of how low and irreverent Queerty is willing to go to spew anti-Obama propaganda.

    Most of the gay folk I know do not make $75,000 per year.

    I have a hard time believing that a paltry $400.00 or $800.00 tax break for singles or couples making more than $75k or 150k respectively is going to make or break their bank or even matter much.

    Not everything is about gay people. SANE gay people know that.

    Why not do something constructive with all the time and effort you put into reporting any – and I do mean, any – insignifcant Obama factoid to froth up the fairy fae.

    Honestly, a tax break – which benefits pretty much everyone – somehow becomes another Obama travesty.

    Your credability as a viable and pertinent blog is shot.

    Why don’t you add “fair and balanced” to your tag and be done with it.

  • Rick Gold

    I completely respect the Republican stance on the gays.

    They hate us.

    I can deal with it as it is consistent, reliable and across the board.

    Democrats want my money, my vote. my time and my support. They make grand promises about repealing DADT and marriage equality and ENDA and then they fucking SQUANDER two years and a majority in both houses of Congress.

    When Republicans want something, they are probably going to get it. If Republicans wanted to repeal DADT, it would have been done. If Republicans wanted to pass ENDA, it would be passed. If Reoublicans supported marriage equality, we would have it.

    In the end I would rather deal with people who are consistent on their principles instead of wavering like Pelosi, Reid and the other spineless, Congressional Democratic “leaders” do.


  • Constatine

    When are my fellow gays going to realize Obamaduh is just empty promises.

    The yes WE CAN has died out and fizzled. At best, 2012 will not be seeing Obama and his dumb agenda of taxing people, and leaving Americans in Afghanistan.

    I said no to his healthcare bill.

    Obama said no to DADT.

    So why are suckers still hanging on to his waist coat?

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