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Why We Need Consciousness-Raising about Singlism: New York Times Edition

taxescrpdI’m not against taxes. There is so much that can be done with taxes that individuals could never accomplish on their own. Taxes are good for education, health, safety, safety nets, infrastructure, communications, transportation, and much more.

What I am against is the unfair and disproportionate taxation of single people. Today, I am joining with dozens of bloggers to dispel the misconception that single people do not pay their fair share. In fact, as the Onely bloggers showed in their article in the Atlantic (discussed here and here), the cost of single life can be staggering. Singles pay the price not just in income taxes, but in at least 18 additional ways.

The group organizing the Singles Blogfest is CLUE, “The Communication League for Unmarried Equality.” The five of us – Cindy Butler of Unmarried Equality, Lisa A. and Christina Campbell of Onely, Eleanore Wells of The Spinsterlicious Life, and I (my website is – are bringing together bloggers and others who want to take on the misperceptions and unfair treatment of singles. On select days, everyone interested in participating will address the topic of the day in their own way.

April 15 marks the date of our first singles blog festival. For this event, we are using the hastags #unmarriedequality and #SinglesBlogfest. We will be organizing more Get-a-Clue singles blog festivals in the future. If you would like to join us, contact any one of us.

The New York Times recently (4-13-13) published a discussion on the topic of marital status and taxes. Tim Edwards, the CPA who wrote the letter to which other readers responded, said this:

“Because I am a single renter with no children, the 1040 is a reminder that I am a loser in the federal government’s game of ‘lifestyle discrimination.’

“Since I do not benefit from married tax rates, multiple dependency exemptions, child tax credits or housing-related deductions, my effective tax rate is often 10 percentage points higher than that of most of my married friends with identical incomes.

“While I am happy that my friends have achieved the American dream, I do not agree that it is my duty to subsidize their lifestyles, particularly in the cases of single-earner families making low six-figure incomes.”

The responses were telling. One, in a shameless display of raw singlism, said about Mr. Edwards: “…maybe he should get married and stop whining.”

Nice. Keep that in mind, anyone about to suggest that we don’t need any consciousness-raising about singlism.

Another, Vanessa Holder, agreed with Tim Edwards and added this:

“No one seems to be looking at the larger picture and commenting that this system is discriminatory to the millions of people who are not even married.”

She is right about the discriminatory part, but oh so wrong in suggesting that no one is making this point. A few years ago, Rachel Buddeberg and I collected excerpts from the writings of dozens of people who have been arguing something similar.  I first took up the cause in Singled Out and have never stopped. That Vanessa Holder knows of none of this is even more evidence for the need for Get-a-CLUE and other efforts to raise awareness about singlism and advocate for change.

The most predictable response came from Heather Ellis, who said that “Mr. Edwards is upset that his tax rate is effectively higher than for a married couple with a house and kids, even though he has only himself to support on the equivalent income.” She, and all those who agree with her, are most in need of some education about all the ways that singles pay dramatically more than married people (here and here, for example). And she also needs to learn to separate the issue of marital status from parental status.

Finally, Frank W. Belcher gets credit for an insightful observation (even though I don’t share his negativity about adults who live with their parents):

“What sits in my craw as a single, rent-paying taxpayer is the tax table column labeled ‘head of a household.’ Not having any dependents, I am relegated to the ‘single’ column, along with those still living with their parents.”

Doing taxes photo available from Shutterstock

Why We Need Consciousness-Raising about Singlism: New York Times Edition

Bella DePaulo, Ph.D

Bella DePaulo (Ph.D., Harvard; Academic Affiliate, Psychological and Brain Sciences, UC Santa Barbara), an expert on single life, is the author of several books, including "Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After" and "How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century." Her TEDx talk is "What no one ever told you about people who are single." Dr. DePaulo has discussed singles and single life on radio and television, including NPR and CNN, and her work has been described in newspapers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and magazines such as Time, Atlantic, the Week, More, the Nation, Business Week, AARP Magazine, and Newsweek. Dr. DePaulo is in her sixties. She has always been single and always will be. She is "single at heart" -- single is how she lives her best and most meaningful life. Visit her website at

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APA Reference
DePaulo, B. (2016). Why We Need Consciousness-Raising about Singlism: New York Times Edition. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 21 Aug 2016
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