Married couples ‘punished by tax system’

Telegraph (UK) 02 Jan 2009

Married couples are thousands of pounds worse off than parents who do not live together under the tax and benefits system, according to a report by an influential think tank. Despite Gordon Brown’s pledge to support “hard working families”, those who marry or set up home together and establish a stable family are up to 20 per cent poorer, the Civitas study shows. Campaigners warned last night that the situation “punishes” families trying to do the right thing. A senior MP said it was “insane”. The findings will lead to further allegations that the system of benefits and tax is fuelling “Broken Britain”. They will also reignite political debate over whether married couples should receive tax breaks, a policy abolished by Mr Brown in 1999 and likely to be a key battleground in the next general election.

..Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “The current benefits system has huge inbuilt biases against socially responsible behaviour and the tax system punishes families who try to do the right thing. “Not only is this situation completely unfair, but it also undermines the creation of a better, more socially just society.” The report, Individualists Who Co-Operate, said the system “penalises” couples who live together, adding to accusations that Labour’s taxes and handouts are encouraging the death of traditional family structures.