Thursday, March 19, 2009

Taxing Colorado Marriages

A bad piece of Colorado public policy is making its way through the 2009 state legislature.

Senate bill 68 would impose a $20 tax on new marriage licenses in Colorado, to fund domestic violence programs.

This is a bad idea on a couple of fronts. First, marriage is an antidote to domestic violence. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) notes that the vast majority of violent domestic incidents are among live-in boyfriends and girlfriends. When couples marry, they make an emotional and physical investment for the long-term, reducing the risk of domestic violence. This hedge is not present in cohabiting relationships. And, the DV (domestic violence) factor increase exponentially if children are included into the cohabitation mix. Imposing this type of tax sends a subtle and false message: if folks didn't marry domestic violence would end.

RMFC supports DV programs. But taxing the societal entity that bulwarks against this behavior is the wrong policy road to travel down. Engaged couples don't need additional tax burdens imposed by the state. Instead, we need to encourage more couples to take the right step by marrying.

Perhaps a tax break to marry would be a better idea.

Everyone wins in this equation.

Let the sponsor of this bill, State Senator John Morse know your views at 303-866-6363.


1 comment:

Smarter Romance said...

You are absolutely right about the cohabitation piece and some of its counter-intuitive dynamics. The vast majority of couples, first-timers or scarred "vetrans" of the divorce-go-round, don't know that cohabitation actually contributes to higher risks. Cohabitation does in fact predict a dramatically higher incidence of relationship failure! Ugh. The very thing "second time around" couples choose to do to avoid the pain of another divorce is choose the cohabitation route. But they don't realize the chance of sadness and more pain will chase them like a schizophrenic shadow. So, whether its another marriage, or "just a try out," good research emphasizes that the risks of another painful separation increase just the same.

I'm torn about the idea of increasing the costs of securing a marriage license. I don't want to make "doing it right the first time" more expensive for anyone. So let me put my emphasis on incorporating into our courtship model those things that will assure us that we are, in fact, "doing it right the first time." And if we did it dumb the first time, then let's learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others and do it SMARTER next time!

D. Brandow,
Golden, CO