House Jettisons "Tax" on Marriage
Special Report - June 4, 2008
During Tuesday’s budget debate, the N.C House Finance Committee eliminated a proposal in the chamber’s state spending plan that would have increased the marriage license fee in order to provide additional funding for domestic violence services. The original proposal sought to add ten dollars to the cost of obtaining a marriage license (currently $50) and ten dollars to the cost of filing an action in district court for divorce (currently $55). The additional funds would be transferred to the Domestic Violence Center Fund in order to expand services to victims of domestic violence. While he said increasing services to victims of domestic violence was an important goal, Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake) offered an amendment to remove what he referred to as an added tax on marriage. The Stam amendment, which was adopted by the committee, eliminated the proposed ten dollar increase on marriage licenses, and instead added $20 to the cost of filing a divorce action.
“A marriage license fee should be designed to cover the cost of processing and issuing the marriage license,” said Stam. “This additional ten dollar cost would constitute a tax, because it would be used to fund a broad public service that extends well beyond those who would pay it. In fact, the rates of domestic violence are typically higher among individuals who live together outside of marriage or who don’t even live together. We should be in the business of encouraging marriage and not penalizing it,” Stam concluded.
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