posted in Parenting
This morning as I dropped off the kids for school, the pundits were on the radio talking about the sweeping tax reform legislation which was voted on in Washington in the wee hours this past weekend.
I glanced out the window of my messy minivan, observing my surroundings. Backpacks on, lunch boxes in hand. Permission slips, check. Children head into childcare centers — some based at school. Sometimes the cars continue on to another childcare provider, another stop in a long day, but it must be done.
Harried parents raced off to work. They work all day and then return to extended care to get their kids. They go home, do homework, eat dinner, pay bills, try to be emotionally available to everyone, prepare for bed, and collapse.
I know that blog readers don’t always like politics. But please bear with me here. I’m not taking about blaming or bashing. I’m not talking about Republicans and Democrats. I’m talking about children. I’m talking about families.
I’m talking about us.
It seems important that working families, and those looking for work, understand the implications of the sweeping tax reform legislation as it is currently written. Concerns are clearly expressed through Save the Children Action Network (a program designed to give children a voice in politics).
This may concern you if you have childcare needs. Or if you rely upon certain early intervention education programs. Childcare and early intervention projects are budget-busters, for sure. This is a major line item in a family budget.
The tax legislation, as it is currently written, does not expand or enhance the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC). The CDCTC is a critical tax credit, specifically geared towards working parents, which enables families to better afford quality child care and certain early education services and programs.
According to the IRS website, the Child and Dependent Tax Care Credit is:
“A credit for the costs of care for a qualifying individual to allow you to work or look for work. The dollar limit on the amount of the expenses you can use to figure the credit is $3,000 for the care of one qualifying individual or $6,000 for two or more qualifying individuals. The amount of your credit is between 20 and 35 percent of your allowable expenses. The percentage you use depends on the amount of your adjusted gross income.”
A fixed child care tax credit can’t keep pace with inflation. According to this article in Time, “Two-fifths of parents said their child care costs have increased by $1,000 or more per year and 15% said it increased by $5,000 or more per year.”
Although a bipartisan effort to expand the credit was attempted, this amendment was cut and does not exist in the legislation at present. In addition to disappointment, there is long-term concern that the overall projected 1.5 trillion-dollar deficit the tax bill will cause might lead to child care program cuts in the future.
According Mark Shriver, President of Save the Children Action Network:
“Instead of helping kids, the tax bill increases the deficit to cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy, which will most likely be paid for by cutting more federal spending on programs intended to help the most vulnerable, particularly our children.”
Our families are dancing faster and faster. We are losing at a game whose only object is to keep up; to pull an extra few bucks from somewhere, like a magician’s rabbit from a hat. Despite the best efforts of many to work hard and keep up, we fall behind. Increasingly, families exist from paycheck to paycheck. Life in an increasingly stratified society is crushingly expensive.
Children are not political pawns. Efforts to safeguard programs for children are an investment in our collective future. To learn what you can do, or for additional information, please click here.
Have you ever used child care or early intervention services? Is it a struggle for you to pay for them?
Photos from iStock