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GOP targets marriage tax penalty

GOP leaders are vowing to continue efforts to give married couples a tax break by ending the "marriage tax penalty" in existing law.

GOP lawmakers "will work to make elimination of the marriage tax penalty our top tax relief priority to help families in 1999," Rep. Jerry Weller, R-Ill., said in the party's weekly radio address Saturday.

With Weller as chief sponsor, the House last year passed legislation that would have given some 28-million married couples tax relief. But the measure died because the Senate never acted on it.

"Republicans believe it is wrong and unfair that today's tax code imposes higher taxes on married working couples," Weller said.

"In fact, an average married working couple pays almost $1,400 more in taxes than an identical couple living together outside of marriage," he added. In his district, he said that is equal to a year's tuition to a community college or three months of day care.

Although the marriage penalty measure died, the old Congress was successful in other efforts to provide Americans with tax relief.

For instance, Congress enacted a $500-per-child tax credit, which Weller said will let parents keep more of their income.