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>> I didn't understand the complaint, myself. One person with $48,000 income paid more income tax (filing single) than two people with $56,000 income (filing MFJ). How exactly is that a "death tax"? The single person has (at least) one less exemption and half the standard deduction of the MFJ couple, so more income is taxable. No surprise there. <<

It's no surprise, that's true, and that is the way the tax laws work. But it *is* a death tax, in some sense, in that the death of a spouse directly resulted in a massive tax increase by virtue of a required change in filing status. Had there not been a death, there would be no such massive household tax increase.

And unlike the estate tax, which many conservatives call a "death tax," this tax is levied directly on surviving spouses, not other heirs. I don't claim to know what should be done about it, but in terms of pouring salt on a fresh wound, the estate tax has nothing on this form of death-related tax hike.

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