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State legislator proposes tax breaks for couples who stay married

Couples who are married the longest would get the biggest tax deductions

A bill currently being debated by the state legislature could give Oklahomans an incentive to stay married longer. Republican Rep. Tom Newell of Seminole, who hopes the bill will discourage couples from getting a divorce, is the author of House Bill 2870, which would give married couples a tax deduction based on how many years they have stayed together.

Couples could get up to a $2,400 tax break

According to The Washington Times, the law would allow couples who file a joint tax return and have been married for three years to claim $200 in tax deductions. Those deductions would increase the longer the couple is married, with couples who have been married for 50 years or more receiving a $2,400 tax deduction.

The bill passed the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Revenue and Taxation early in February and is now under consideration by the full House Appropriations Committee.

Designed to deter couples from divorce

The Subcommittee estimated that the bill would cost Oklahoma about $11.6 million in lost tax revenue each year. Newell, however, argues that the bill could be an incentive for some couples to stay married. He also claims that fewer divorces will mean that Oklahoma will be able to benefit from fewer societal costs that would otherwise be caused by divorce.

The bill is not the first time a government has used financial incentives to encourage couples to stay together. In the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron announced a plan last year to give tax breaks to married couples in that country. According to the BBC, the plan would allow couples to take advantage of a transferrable tax allowance equivalent to approximately $1,700. Unlike the proposed Oklahoma bill, however, it would not reward couples for staying together longer.

A reminder of the high cost of divorce

These proposed tax benefits for married couples are yet another reminder of the high financial cost divorce often entails. Issues such as alimony, child support, and division of assets can often lead to disputes and costly court battles.

However, while the proposed bill may be well intentioned, it is unlikely to make couples who are determined to get a divorce change their minds. For this reason, anybody who is going through a divorce needs to seek the advice of an experienced family law lawyer who can guide his client through all the stages of a divorce. In some cases, a lawyer may be able to help arrange a mediated or uncontested divorce which will help the client avoid costly and time-consuming court battles.

In the event that litigation is necessary, however, it is also important for those going through a divorce to have a lawyer who is experienced in handling divorce disputes and will fight for a fair settlement or judgment.