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Marriage penalty bill approved by state House committee

Updated:
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Legislation that would reduce state revenue by almost $55 million by eliminating the so-called ``marriage penalty'' in state income taxes was passed by a legislative committee Wednesday.

The House Revenue and Taxation Committee sent the measure to the full House for action one week after it postponed a vote over concerns about the bill's fiscal impact and affect on common law marriages.

The bill's author, Rep. Pam Peterson, R-Tulsa, has said her bill would encourage couples to marry by eliminating the income tax penalty they experience by filing a joint tax return.

The tax code gives married couples a standard deduction of $2,000, the same deduction granted single filers. The result is that couples essentially have their tax deduction cut in half for getting married, she said.

The legislation would allow couples to compute their taxes as individuals, then add the amounts due on their return together.

``Its only fair that we treat married and unmarried Oklahomans the same and we definitely should not maintain policies that could discourage marriage,'' Peterson said.

There are about 700,000 married couples in Oklahoma who would benefit from the change. The bill would reduce state revenue by $54.8 million a year.

The measure is House Bill 1256.
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