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Expand the Child Tax Credit to Zero Child Young Families
October 17, 2017
by William P. Meyers

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Expansion would be good for working people and the environment

Republicans are apparently considering expanding the child tax credit in their new tax proposal. They are doing it in a way that encourages young people to have more children, while punishing those who chose to delay having children, or decide to have no children at all.

By giving the Child Tax Credit to young taxpayers who have not yet had a child, the government would help them to prepare for parenthood, while offsetting the many disadvantages younger people usually have in our economic system.

The basic rules for the current Child Tax Credit are that each dependent child is worth a $1000 credit. Unlike a deduction, which reduces the income used to calculate your income tax, a credit directly reduces the tax. So if there are two people with the same income and other deductions, and the childless one would pay $2,000 in income tax, the one claiming the child credit for one child would pay only $1,000. For details the the IRS Child Tax Credit instructions.

Yet the person without the child is the more responsible person. The woman who delays having a child until she is better situated to raise it is gets no help from the government, until she actually has the child.

My suggestion is that everyone between the ages of 18 and 30 get the child tax credit for one child. Married, childless couples would get two credits. Those who actually have a child or two would get their credits until the child turns 18, as is the present case. I would argue the maximum number of credits should be two, but that is not politically possible at present.

Under those terms, if Congress decides to increase the size of the credit, I would support it. It would be progressive, because a credit is worth more, in relative turns, to those who work for lower pay than for those who have high incomes.

According to a New York Times (For the Non-Rich, the Child Tax Credit Is the Key to Tax Reform) article on the potential tax changes from the Republican proposal, it is not clear how much of an increase will actually be proposed, or in the final bill. It could be as low as a $500 increase to $1500, all the way up to tripling the credit to $3000.

This is the sort of proposal that creates political dilemmas for both Democrats and Republicans. Republicans really don't like shifting taxes off the backs of the poor. But since they have many constituencies that don't believe the size of the human population is a problem, and believe God has commanded them to reproduce with reckless abandon, they can gain support by favoring a larger Child Tax Credit.

Democrats might be forced to vote in favor of the entire tax package, no matter how repugnant, if it raises the Child Tax Credit significantly. Many Democratic Party voters have children and would want that tax relief.

The Democratic Party has a serious problem balancing its electoral demographics against its acknowledgement of the gravity of the environmental problem. At all levels of the party, from the grassroots to the elected officials, no one wants to talk about the impact of population size on the environment. Handy talking points, like that when a person immigrates from a developing country to the United States their personal carbon dioxide, greenhouse gas emissions rise by a factor of about ten, don't get passes around.

Nor do the Republicans want to talk about overpopulation, even though that would be a good argument for those who are against immigration. It goes against too many core Republican values, like making money off of rising real estate values and from the number of consumers available to be exploited.

By supporting Child Tax Credits for all taxpayers under the age of 30, regardless of whether they actually have children, Democrats can get young workers off to a better start. They will be better prepared economically when they do have children. And the nudging of young people towards having more children can be avoided without explicitly talking about overpopulation.



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