Should children count as a tax deduction?

I was just doing my taxes and got to count my bouncing baby tax deductions.

But it made me think. Why does the US government give parents this extra money? Why should a couple who has no children pay more than a couple who makes the same amount and has 3 children?

The couple who has children will use more of the resources (like schools) than the childless couple, so shouldn’t they pay at least the same?

Is the purpose of this tax deduction to encourage folks to have children? Or just to suck up to parents?


An exemption means the US government TAKES less tax away from you. They are not giving you money. They are taking less money.

Should children count as a tax deduction? IMHO, no. That $1000 per child (or whatever it is this year) child deduction should be revoked ASAP.

Now, before you legions of parents rush in to crucify me, I’ll give my reasoning. The only reason parents are allowed to use their children as a tax deduction is because children are DEPENDENTS. The tax break is supposed to be recognizing that children (as dependents) require a certain minimum level of financial support in order to survive, which shouldn’t be considered taxable income (just as the standard deduction is supposed to reflect the minimum level of income needed for a non-dependent adult to keep body and soul together, and thus isn’t taxed). But though all children are of necessity dependents, not all dependents are children. Why should parents get a tax break that’s unavailable to those poor slobs who have the misfortune to be caring for a dependent who’s over the age of 18?

I say shitcan that stupid $1000 child deduction. Then increase the dependent deduction by $1000. Parents will still get the same amount of money - and those people who are taking care of severely mentally or physically handicapped adults will finally get the degree of tax relief they deserve. And while we’re at it, the standard deduction should also be increased - that is, unless anyone REALLY believes that $7,500/year is actually enough to live on!

I think you can take the dependent exemption no matter what their age–as long as you are providing more than half their support.

The government wants to encourage people to have children. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Otherwise there’ll be even fewer children, and consequently too few young people to pay for the baby boomers’ social security.

I’m still trying to figure out why the “Head of Household” standard deduction is nearly as much as “Married filing Joint” deduction.

I can only speculate that the people who make the tax laws want to reward single parenthood.

You can, but there’s an extra credit for children that can’t be taken for other dependents.

I don’t believe I’ve ever met anyone who decided to have children just to get the tax deduction. Nor do I think I know anyone who would have chosen not to have the children they have if there had been no deduction for them.

Anyone out there have even anecdotal evidence to the contrary? If there’s any effect at all, I’d guess that it would be vanishingly small.

(This reminds me of the argument one occasionally hears that goes, “If society and the law decided that homosexual relationships were OK, where would the next generation of children come from,” as if straight people would stop reproducing if they could be gay, instead!)

Should there be a deduction for children? I’d say yes, there should be one for all dependents. I don’t think there should be an extra “child credit” that is just a way to buy votes. Give the credit to all dependents. I feel those people taking care of disabled or the elderly need it more than I do taking care of 2 healthy kids.

My brother-in-law claimed my disabled sister-in-law as a dependent, so it’s not just kids.

As far as kids goes, I say keep the deduction. The little dirtballs are expensive, including the public school costs! Uniforms, books, supplies, lab fees, after school care, etc. It all adds up.

Yes, that Earned Income Credit and the Child credit or whatever it’s called; and there are other credits or deductions as well, depending on circumstances.
I don’t really see anything wrong with all that. For lower-income people, the refundable credits come in handy for those eeking out a decent existence–why should the kids of poor parent(s) be denied? For those with higher income, it seems that the tax laws want to encourage our citizens to reproduce themselves (usually in the context of a family), a goal or aim I don’t think anyone really questions.

Or maybe they just don’t feel it’s their place to punish single parents? If someone’s raising a family, keeping up a household, and paying taxes on their own, why wouldn’t they need just as much–if not more–tax credit as a pair of people doing so?

I have no children but I am willing to pay to make sure your three kids are not ignorant. I benefit greatly from ‘free’ education for all and I will gladly pay more to improve public education.

Yes, children (and other kinds of dependants (your dog does not qualify, by the way :slight_smile: ) should get tax deductions. Children are very expensive endeavours. And the only return on investment is someone to do your eulogy. Pfft.

Autz, I believe you are opeating under several fallacious assumptions. For one, the people who use the most govenment services are generally the ones who pay the least. Senior citizens, through Social Security and Medicare, consume more than half of the federal budget, and yet they get an extra deduction. If I remember my form correctly, the blind also get an extra deduction, and presumably they require more government services than the “unblind”. The rich require the fewest services, and yet they pay the most in taxes.

families do not necessarily require greater federal resources than other groups. Defense is second in size behind Social Security, and children are not special consumers of that spending. In fact, I’m not sure what part of the budget flows more to families and children than elsewhere. Maybe health spending? The vast majority of education funds do not come from the federal revenues; the funds primarily come from the local and state tax revenues. You could argue that since families with young children tend to spend their entire income, and are more likely to be home owners and pay property tax, which generally is for the schools (in my state, e.g., nursing homes do not pay property tax).

I think the idea behind the tax break is that families are an important part of society and need support. I’ve got 5 kids, and I always feel guilty about that deduction, but I’m keeping all the money I can! Personally, I don’t think it is possible to have a fair income tax. Why do the blind get a special deduction? What about parapalegics? The deaf? Should a paralyzed, deaf and blind guy get three deductions?

You should not feel guilty about taking the deduction for your children, SlowMindThinking. Children do not generate revenue and do not create wealth. They are a financial burden, and people with financial burdens should be taxed less than people without them. (I am of the humble opinion that everyone should be taxed a helluva lot less than they are now, but the above still holds true in Utopia Friedonia.)

(BTW, I’m not saying children should be thought of as “burdens,” just that they suck up a lot of money.)

Children are not “burdens” or “exemptions” like losing money in an investment. Children are human beings. They are citizens.

It is quite appropriate for the government to recognize that a household with four human beings in it is not in the same income position as a household with two human beings in it. It would be ridiculous, and unfair, to pretend that the only people in a household who count are the adults.

Child tax credits simply recognize that the child’s “income” is derived from the parents’ income, so that the income the parent claims is in fact income split amongst more than one person.

Shouldn’t this be in GD?

Anyway, it’s called “public policy.” Congress is allowed to make exceptions to the tax laws in order to foster important public concerns. Most of these laws have some sort of economic basis: in other words, it’s better for the economy that we do these things.

For the matter at hand: if parents have the extra $400 from not being taxed, that’s $400 more they have to spend which can go back into the economy. Conversely, if parents are taxed that additional $400, they’ll be scrounging their money all the more and, in the aggregate, growth is slowed.

The same reasoning applies to education credits, charitable deductions, scholarship exclusions, exclusions for the sale of a personal residence, business deductions, capital gains, etc. Take those away, and people will spend less money.

I just don’t get this at all.

Yes, Children are expensive. But so are a lot of other things.

What if I have no children but spend a lot of money raising exotic orchards? Then I have a large financial burden. Should I get a special tax break?

Why do we give people a tax break for the financial burden of having 3 children, but not for the financial burden of paying off those 3 fancy cars I bought.

We don’t generally make people pay fewer taxes just because they have a heavy financial burden. It’s only specific financial burdens. Like those from kids. Why are they a special case?

The government isn’t a service provider from which we pay as we go like car manufacturers. The government provides services to those in society requiring services - as deemed by the society. (In theory at least.) Society has decided that senior citizens, blind people, and children are important enough to provide with services, or, in the case of children, a tax break. Society could care less if you have an exotic orchard. What is hard to understand?