Rep. Ted Budd: Level the playing field for working parents

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Washington, February 8, 2018 | comments

In a 2012 column dissecting why our country’s fertility plunge is a big deal, Ross Douthat, a columnist for the New York Times, made the point that today’s babies are tomorrow’s taxpayers, workers, and entrepreneurs, and relatively youthful populations speed economic growth and keep spending commitments affordable.

Simply put, fertility rates are important, both on an economical and cultural front, and the downward fertility trend should be alarming to everyone. In order to alter this trend, we should make it easier to raise kids. And as lawmakers, if we accept the notion that taxation can change behavior for businesses, why not for families?

That’s why I’ve introduced the Working Families Relief Act that would provide relief to working parents by making some of them eligible for the entire child credit refund — not just $1,400, as current law says. For example, a working mother of three pays over $1,400 in payroll taxes in a given year, then the entire $2,000 credit could be refundable for her under my bill.

By doubling the child tax credit and boosting the refundability of it, our country’s new tax law took a step in the right direction, towards a more family-friendly tax code that addresses the existing bias against parents. My bill aims to take another step towards that goal by providing additional tax relief for the working poor.

In testimony before the Senate Finance Committee last fall, Ramesh Ponnuru, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said this:

The parent tax arises, again, because parents are contributing to Social Security and Medicare both through their taxes — including especially their payroll taxes — and through the financial sacrifices they make to raise children. If we wish to reduce their contributions to put it on par with those of non-parents, we need to take account of the payroll taxes as well as the income taxes.

Looking at the numbers, in 2016, the left-of-center Tax Policy Center estimated that 44 percent of households paid no federal income tax that year, but nearly 60 percent of those households have members who work and thus pay Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes.

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