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.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.