(CNSNews.com) - On Capitol Hill, the talk about love on Valentine's Day focused on what some are calling the "love tax" - a call for abolishing the marriage penalty that has married couples paying higher taxes than they would if they were single.
A conservative group called Citizens for A Sound Economy (CSE) Monday urged members of congress to scrap the marriage tax penalty: "No Love Tax," the group said.
The House passed legislation to that effect last week, but the Senate still must act on it and President Clinton has threatened to veto it.
At a Capitol Hill news conference, CSE's tax and budget policy director Liz Tobias said, "Uncle Sam must believe there is no such thing as free love. But reducing the burden of the marriage penalty would deliver tax relief at the altar. The marriage penalty is yet another unfair component of our tax code. This is why we need to scrap the code and replace it with a tax system that is simple, low, fair and honest."
Representative Christopher Cox (R-CA) said the "No Love Tax" phrase sums it up: "If this were the 1960's, I suppose we would be agitating for free love. We're only talking about reducing the cost of love as opposed to making it free. It ought not to be the case in America today that you are discriminated against by our tax code, simply because of your status."
Cox said the income tax didn't always penalize married people, and he said it should be that way again.
"From the inception of the income tax in 1913 until 1948, our government didn't discriminate between single people or married people. Everybody got taxed exactly the same way. We are moving back in that direction with this legislation," Cox said.
Another Republican, Representative Tom Davis (R-VA) told reporters that tax relief for married couples is needed because "love may be free, but marriage is expensive under the current tax code. All this is an attempt to basically equalize it and not punish people because of their marital status."
The marriage tax relief bill has gone to the Senate, which is now on its Presidents' Day recess. There's no word when the Senate will take up the bill, although Republican leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) has said he backs the legislation.