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The tax rate structure of I.R.C. § 1 places no direct legal obstacle in the path of persons desiring to get married. Nor is anyone absolutely prevented by it from getting married. Moreover, the "marriage penalty" is most certainly not an attempt to interfere with the individual's freedom to marry.
Petitioners, married taxpayers who filed separate income tax returns applying the rates for unmarried persons rather than the higher rates in I.R.C. § 1(d) for married couples, argued that the "marriage penalty" discriminated against working married couples in violation of the equal protection clause of U.S. Const. amend XIV. The Tax Court rejected the constitutional challenge, but refused to impose a five percent addition for intentional disregard of regulations under I.R.C. § 6653(a) as sought by respondent Commissioner of Internal Revenue. Both parties appealed.
The court affirmed the judgment against petitioners, holding that the congressional objectives of horizontal equity and progressively were clearly compelling and that the tax rate structure of I.R.C. § 1 did not significantly interfere with decisions to enter into the marital relationship. It also affirmed the Tax Court's denial of leave to change filling status and a deduction for home storage space. The court reversed the denial of respondent's request to impose the five percent addition, holding that the plain language of § 6653 required that the addition apply even when taxpayer intent was not fraudulent.