While Massachusetts households headed by single parents have, on average, less income than other types of families, they are subject to the same effective income tax rate as the population as a whole. Consequently, such head-of-household families are victims of inequitable tax treatment in two ways. First, their current personal exemptions result in a higher tax burden on these families than on families of the same size and income who file joint income tax returns. Second, head-of-household families, defined as single filers, must apply a lower no-tax threshold than joint filers, even though the former are also composed of two or more persons. Both tax provisions translate to less tax relief for many low-income families than other low-income filers, yet they can easily be remedied at a relatively low cost to the commonwealth. This article presents data on the 1988 tax burdens of single, joint, and head-of-household filers and suggests three options for tax reform to correct these inequities.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/randy_albelda/32/