There have been numerous articles in anticipation of Tax Day discussing the favorable treatment to married couples with children who own a home. One of the debaters in the NYTimes Room-for-Debate made a point to say that taxes should not warp our decisions. I agree with that assessment, but it's hard not to take financial matters into account when making major life decisions.
The current tax code was well-massaged by the Bush era, and we now live in a country where the wealthiest individuals generally pay less than 20% in taxes -- while the rest of us pay upwards of 25%. The current tax breaks come in the form of credits and deductions that nudge Americans to make the 'right' decisions, such as getting married to someone of the opposite sex, having children, and buying a home.
One of the commenters in another article made light of the situation when describing how is then-future wife rationalized a marriage. She first calculated their taxes as single people filing separately. With this configuration, they collectively owed the IRS $3,000. She then calculated their taxes as a married couple filing jointly, and when he saw that they would receive a $300 refund, they were at the courthouse the next day signing a marriage license. This woman obviously knew her husband and his sensibility toward money.
I like to think that I am not above paying more in life to make the decisions that I want, but it is easy to be swayed by what can amount to large amounts of money over the course of a lifetime. Money, after all, does offer people freedom, but in this case, it also locks them down to a partner, to children, and to a house.