Friday, April 25, 2008

Tax Breaks for Children

Rachel Lucas brings up a touchy subject:

Here’s a debate question: is it fair for people to pay less tax simply because they have chosen to have children? I’m sure you can guess where I stand (I say it’s bullshit), but I’m curious to hear logical, sound defenses of this policy. Yeah, if I had kids, I’d take the deduction, but I don’t think I’d feel comfortable saying it’s actually “fair” that the day I popped a baby out I suddenly deserved to pay less tax than the day I did before.

On the one hand I support fair, low taxes. On the other hand, I believe it is in society's interest to support and promote responsible reproduction as it is the only thing that can stave off the worst case demographic scenarios presented by Mark Steyn in American Alone.

First, a disclaimer. I am a father but I do not receive any tax benefit. Actually, the way the laws are set up, I am penalized but that's another, much longer rant.

I suppose my opinion on whether or not there should be a tax break for having children depends on how it is implemented. If asked, I would say I do not support the breaks we currently have. It seems the entire system is structured to promote poor, uneducated, single women to have children in order to receive money from the father, the government and any other third-party institution that may dump cash their way. A child is not only a meal ticket but, depending on who you get to donate sperm, a lottery ticket.

That being said, in the end, we need children. I'm a supporter of the "one for yourself, one for your spouse, one for the country" mentality of reproduction. The fact that intelligent, responsible adults like Rachel Lucas have no interest in having children (a decision only she can make and one on which I refuse to judge anyone... the last thing we need is people who don't want children having them) only requires that other people have even more children. The problem is, children are very expensive and having three or more children in the modern world is not a good financial decision, to say the least. Let's face it; educated, intelligent, financially stable adults look at all the sacrifices necessary to have children and many of them just don't think it's worth it. Sadly, these are the very people we need to be parents.

So, what do you do?

I think we need to find a way to encourage financially stable individuals to have children without also promoting unfit or single parents(I'm not saying we leave those children to rot... just that we attempt to deter that behavior). I believe one good way to do that is to provide tax-breaks for employed parents in stable relationships. It doesn't seem fair but it is undeniable that everyone in society benefits from there being a society in the first place. Surely that's worth a few tax breaks here and there?

Of course, if Rachel reads this, she's going to eviscerate it. I dread all the wrath. Tastes like burning.

Update: I am speechless. Welcome Mark Steyn readers. Take a look around if you have a few minutes.

Wow, Rachel Lucas and now this? That's two heroes of mine in the same week! It's like Christmas. What's next? Lileks? Ace? Allahpundit? John Bolton? Hugh Hewitt?


Rachel Lucas said...

Ha! I shall not eviscerate this; on the contrary, it's one of the only things I've read in the debate so far that I actually agree with. I LOVE your idea about structuring it more fairly and more productively by rewarding actual decent, stable couples for making new babies. I don't disagree with that at all.

I have been REALLY surprised at how contentious this debate has gotten in my comment thread. Remind me to never, ever post about it again.

SenatorMark4 said...

Tax policies impact the decisions of thinking people in any society. They generate IRS Form 1099's for every citizen taking any risk for money...except welfare, AFDC, etc. The list is endless. We give, they take and distribute. To buy votes? All monies, grants, or benefits distributed to individuals or corporate entities should also generate the same reporting. It is our government. We can force them to do what they require us to do!

Lee said...

"I believe one good way to do that is to provide tax-breaks for employed parents in stable relationships..."

Why not start even earlier on the curve and exploit existing filtration mechanisms - offer substantial (or complete) tuition subsidies/waivers/grants and on-campus childcare for young married couples. The real problem is getting the transition to socio-economic adulthood back down to an age that approximates biological adulthood (or at least a little closer than it is now - 40 is the new 21, and that's just perverse).

Alice H said...

Heck, on-campus child care for college students would go a long way, IMO. I'd jump at the chance to have on-campus child care for just the hours I'm in class. As it is, I have to either hire a babysitter for enough hours that I'm violating our personal policy of as much home-indoctrination as possible prior to the age of five, or I'm going to have to continue to put off taking most of remaining classes for my degree until the kids are both in school full-time.

Attila said...

Actually, what's next is a Pillagelanche, which is defined as 3 hits from Pillage Idiot plus or minus 2. I've got you in a linkfest. Nice job.

Moron Pundit said...

W00t! Pillage-O-Lanche!

It was actually more than 3-2. It was like 3+2 or something! Still flattens the traffic I can send out!