Nothing like tax time to be reminded that if you’re single, you’ll likely be paying more to the IRS than your married friends.
Not so long ago, the news was filled with stories about same-sex marriage and the desire to have access to the hundreds of perks and benefits — many financial — that are readily available to those who are legally married. Who wouldn’t want those perks, especially in this not-so-hot economy? When you enter into the legal contract known as marriage, you pay less for car insurance, enjoy huge income tax savings, can pool your Social Security benefits and have access to each other’s health insurance — not to mention earn the seal of social approval that comes when you do what grown-ups are supposed to do: get hitched.
Clearly, somebody wants you married. Even a lab rat running a maze would have no problem seeing which path offered the least resistance and the biggest rewards.
But what if you’re single? Maybe you don’t like being single, but you are. Does that mean you should pay extra and be taxed more? Maybe you’re the independent type who thrives as a party of one; should you sacrifice your single status for a tax break or affordable health insurance? Should a person who isn’t married struggle more than someone who’s on his or her third marriage and therefore able to access the full measure of rights, perks and privileges that comes with a wedding license?
I was talking to a good friend of mine, who is divorced. He’s had the same job for 25 years, gets his W-2 every year, and even though 35 percent of his income is taken out of his check, he still ends up owing a few grand more come April 15. The upside is that he has “Cadillac” group health insurance that runs around $300 a year, with no deductible and $5 co-pays.
Since he makes a lot more money than me, if we were to get married and file a joint tax return, I could leverage my business expenses against his income and he would get a huge refund. I would have immediate access to his health insurance plan and could stop spending $10,000 a year for my individual policy that has a $1,200 deductible and $40 co-pays. We could insure both of our cars for what it now costs us to insure one. If either of us died before the other, the Social Security we’ve both been paying our entire lives would go to the surviving spouse, not back into government coffers as it will when you’re single, without so much as a funeral benefit.
These things are just the tip of the iceberg — but they are clearly significant examples of how it pays to be married in this country. Sign a marriage license with the state and you, too, will receive all the benefits and advantages that go to the good citizens who behave properly and keep things simpler for big institutions, like the government, to manage.
Face it, the way things are now, if you’re not married, you’re getting screwed and you will continue to get screwed until you finally give in and do what the status quo says is the right thing.
So isn’t it ironic that 51 percent of the adult population is legally single and that number is growing in a singular direction?
It appears we’re not so eager to sign on the dotted line, despite all the incentives to do so. A lot of us don’t want to marry someone just to get the goodies, don’t want to take the risk of losing what we have to community property, haven’t found a suitable partner, or simply prefer to follow our own singular path, despite the high price.
It’s neither a romantic issue nor a religious issue. It’s a legal issue. I don’t think most gay people get married because they want a church wedding officiated by a pastor. Religions that accept same-sex marriage were already conducting those ceremonies, without the legalities, and anyone can throw a big party with a fancy cake. I think the reason same-sex couples fought for the right to get married is because they want to have the same civil rights as married heterosexuals, including legal recognition and equal access to all the practical benefits that marriage provides.
Well, single people want their civil rights too. Yet how often do we raise our collective voice and demand reform?
I believe we stay silent because too many of us see ourselves as “not married yet” or “in between marriages” or “in a relationship” and therefore not really single. We think the higher price we pay is temporary despite the statistical fact that people spend more of their adult life single than married.
Sadly, too many of us are unwilling to define ourselves as single even though, in a legal sense, we are. We acquiesce to unfair treatment on the basis of our marital status and will continue to do so until we’re willing to face the fact that being single means a lot more than whether or not we have a date on Saturday night.
Isn’t it time we finally stood together and fought for our singular rights?
If you’d like to find out how you can make a stand for civil and social rights for unmarried people, please visit: http://www.unmarried.org/. This non-profit organization believes that discrimination on the basis of marital status is unfair and counterproductive in a society that cares for all its members.
Copyright © 2016 Kim Calvert/Singular Communications, LLC
Kim Calvert is the editor of Singular magazine and the founder of the SingularCity social networking community. An outspoken champion of people who are living their lives as a “me” instead of a “we,” Kim oversees the creative direction and editorial content of the magazine and online social networking community. She secures contributors and is responsible for maintaining the fun, upbeat, inspirational and often-humorous tone of Singular, a lifestyle guide for successful single living.