Image courtesy of

Back in 2014 and into 2015, I posted a multi-part series of posts about the history of marriage in the tax code. In 2016 I was asked to condense that series into a CPE presentation. Here are excerpts from that presentation. This series of posts will cover a lot of the same ground as was covered three years ago, but hopefully with a little bit fresher perspective.


Part 12 was the last official piece of this series. The 12 parts were scattered over a series of months dating back to last summer. This 13th post pulls together all 12 parts in one place, with links below:

  • Part 1: I call this one “In the Beginning.” Part 1 introduces the basic concepts of what this series is about, dating back to the beginning of the tax code in 1913.
  • Part 2: This part goes into more detail about what taxes were like in 1913.
  • Part 3: This part dives into the changes to tax law that took effect in 1917, changes that would lay the foundation for filing statuses to appear more than 30 years later.
  • Part 4: This part continues the discussion of the tax changes of 1917, and also explores why so many tax returns were filed jointly.
  • Part 5: This part explores community property laws and how married couples living in community property states could take advantage of a loophole not available to married couples in common-law states.
  • Part 6: This part delves looks at court cases in the 1920s involving community property law and taxation, culminating with the landmark Poe v. Seaborn case of 1930.
  • Part 7: This part looks at the aftermath of Poe v. Seaborn, leading up to the introduction of filing statuses in 1948.
  • Part 8: Finally in 1948, Congress introduced filing statuses into the tax code. This part goes into more detail about that.
  • Part 9: The tax reform in 1948 created a new set of inequalities … this time between married and unmarried taxpayers. Congress’s attempts at fixing this inequality led to another problem … the marriage penalty.
  • Part 10: This part goes into examples of the marriage penalty using the tax brackets of the 1970s through the late ’80s.
  • Part 11: This part covers how the Tax Reform Act of 1986 reduced the marriage penalty.
  • Part 12: This part concludes by discussing other aspects of the “marriage penalty” beyond just the tax brackets. Issues such as tax credits and various deductions.

“This blog post, along with comments that may follow, should not be considered tax advice. Before you make final tax or financial decisions, please secure a professional tax advisor to give you advice about your unique situation. To secure Jason as your accountant, please click on the ‘Services’ link at the top of the page.”