Noting the federal government’s lack of recognition for civil domestic partnerships, Outright Libertarians has issued a press release highlighting the social consequences, and price tag, of the proposed Domestic Partnership Initiative recently endorsed by the Libertarian Party of California:
“The federal government does not recognize ‘domestic partnerships’ in federal law, through both legal precedent and statutes including the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA),” noted Outright Libertarians’ National Chair, Rob Power. “As a result, all federal tax exemptions and deductions for legally-married individuals in California would be nullified along with their legal marriages.”
Immediately after passage of the DPI, the federal income tax implications for the 48.5% of Californians over age 15 who are legally married would be staggering. According to Forbes Magazine, the benefits of the federal Working Families Relief Act include enhanced tax deductions for legally-married couples. The Tax Policy Center notes that asset transfers between spouses are free of transfer taxes at a federal level, and the IRS notes the ability for taxpayers to claim their spouses as dependents. Those provisions, in addition to other federal tax deductions and write-downs limited to legally married couples, equate to an average of $6,000 per individual spouse — with the total being significantly greater for higher-income families.
“Passage of the DPI, as endorsed by the Libertarian Party of California’s executive committee, would hand the married families of California a $130 billion higher tax bill in the first tax year after the passage of the initiative,” said Power. “Assuming Washington could address this problem with unprecedented speed — within 24 months of the passage of the DPI — Californians would pay an extra quarter-trillion dollars in federal taxes as a direct result of this bill. That’s the minimum amount, as well — if the Obama plan to pass the death tax succeeds, the total federal tax hike over those two years could approach $300 billion.”
The release continues taking the LPCA to task both for the noted consequences of the measure, and the manner in which the endorsement was passed:
“Higher federal taxes, in the wake of significant state tax increases, would drive countless Californians into severe financial difficulty,” said Angela Keaton, Outright’s California Representative. “It’s unconscionable and California Libertarians should be outraged at this irresponsible vote by their executive committee. The Libertarian Party is supposed to oppose tax increases, not endorse them.”
Libertarians typically oppose tax increases of all sorts. The Libertarian Party’s national platform, adopted by a majority vote of Libertarians in convention in 2008, calls for the wholesale elimination of the income tax and IRS. The Libertarian Party of California’s endorsement of a bill that would significantly increase federal income taxes runs completely counter to mainstream Libertarianism.
While the tax implications alone are massive, they are not the only consequence of passage of the DPI. The bill would also significantly increase the role of state and federal government in parenting and spousal health decisions. Since most states do not recognize “domestic partners,” individuals with a California marriage license in those states would find themselves unable to make decisions ranging from spousal health care (in the event of spousal incapacitation) to home schooling and child health decisions. Military families with California marriage licenses could also find themselves unable to live on base, ineligible to receive military employment health coverage, and even excluded from receiving casualty notices in the event of the injury or death of family members in active duty. Each of these consequences is also sharply in opposition to the Libertarian Party’s national platform.
“Libertarians around the country are absolutely astounded at the decision to endorse this bill,” said Ruth Bennett, Outright’s Vice Chair. “A bill that hikes federal taxes and increases state and federal interference in personal relationships is about as unLibertarian as you can get! This vote is a disaster and an embarrassment for Libertarians who believe that higher taxes, increased legal restrictions and bigger government are a bad thing.”
The Libertarian Party of California was a full partner in the No On 8 coalition to oppose Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment passed in 2008 that voided the equal protection clause of the California constitution vis-a-vis gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender families. In contrast, the motion to endorse the DPI was hurriedly made — without time for due consideration — and passed by a vote of the state party executive committee, above the objections of Outright’s Chair Rob Power (who was a member of the California LP Executive Committee and resigned following the DPI endorsement vote).
“The Libertarian position on this issue is simple,” said Power. “Our platform calls for removing government from personal relationships entirely. This initiative does not do that, instead leaving in place all of the intrusiveness that goes along with government marriage licenses, yet changing the name of the license to appease religious conservatives, thereby massively increasing California couples’ federal tax burden. The Libertarian Party of California should be voting to continue its commitment to repeal Proposition 8 and its restrictions on individual liberties. Instead, it chose to endorse a massive federal tax hike and enable even greater government interference in the most intimate decisions of California families of all types. It’s hard to imagine a more disastrous and anti-Libertarian outcome.”