Who Should Pay More Taxes–Parents or Childfree?

The question whether those with no children should pay the same taxes as parents in our society can generate quite the debate.

Childfreedom recently did an interesting poll about whether the childfree should contribute to property and school taxes. Most said the childfree should contribute but not pay as much as households with children.  What do you think?

On the deficit channel, the bipartisan deficit panel has just recommended that the child tax credit be eliminated as part of cutting the huge U.S. deficit.  I say this should be the case, deficit or not.

But in this article, some think the childfree should pay more taxes. Why? Because supposedly we can afford to pay more! That notion… generated some havoc …

…on my facebook page and even inspired someone to write her representative. Here is her letter:

123 Senator Way
Your City, Your State USA

Dear (Senator),

I know that in our state and in our country, funding for our government and government programs falls short of the existing need. Additionally, we are now beginning to face the sad environmental and social realities of human overpopulation – global warming, famine, disease, poverty, and violence. We cannot fail to acknowledge the large part we play, as citizens of the first world, in consumption of the world’s resources.

While I do not believe in forcible population control, I believe that it is irresponsible of our government to support population growth by offering tax incentives for people to have children. If anything, people should be taxed more for each additional child, as each child will potentially place greater strain on government funded social programs and on our planet.

Rescinding or reducing tax incentives for children would generate an enormous amount of tax income for our state. This income could in turn be used to support improved education and social programs for our communities.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my opinion. Thank you also for your service in representing our great state!

Very Respectfully,
Your Name

Do you agree with her?

How would you craft your letter differently? Why?

What is responsible and fair when it comes to taxes and those with kids and those with no children (by choice or not)?

15 thoughts on “Who Should Pay More Taxes–Parents or Childfree?

  1. We the childfree should not have to pay school taxes at all, property tax a little because we do have houses too. However, I believe the people with kids should pay more in taxes overall, not less and certainly not get rewarded for polluting our planet with their offspring. I always though we (the childfree) should get rewarded, not penalized. The person that wrote that letter hit it on the head in the 2nd paragraph. Working in the medical field, I see how kids are a strain on the system firsthand.

  2. Very nice blog! The letter is quite well done and expresses the sentiment and logic that should be part of the government and tax policy, but is sadly lacking. I will be linking to your blog and look forward to reading more of your posts.

  3. (NB I am in New Zealand)
    I accept I have a social responsibility towards participation in society, and that paying taxes for essential and core government services is part of that.
    One day I might need to use welfare services should I lose my job and I have received free hospital care for emergency treatment (both tax payer funded government provided schemes).
    I also accept that part of my taxes go towards our education system and I’m happy with that, as far as core education services go, it is important we have an educated society and that education is not dished out based one’s financial position.
    What I do not agree with is additional funding to people who chose to have children (we also have tax breaks for breeding).
    I have medical insurance and am saving for my retirement. Except for emergency treatment I am responsible for my own medical costs and will not be a burden on the state in my retirement – how do I have extra income to fund the lifestyle choices?
    It feels like the state punishes those who take responsibility for themselves and rewards those who do not. I am sadly reminded of the story of the Little Red Hen.

  4. Another way to look at it is that tax breaks for having children are not rewards for having kids but punishments for NOT having them. If group A gets tax breaks that group B doesn’t then that is in effect a penalty on group B.

    In Nazi Germany and fascist Italy the governments gave medals to people who had many children and had special “bachelor taxes” on men who did not get married and have babies. That sounds uncomfortably similar to me.

    I don’t have a problem with “progressive” taxation that taxes the wealthy at a higher rate than the poor. That by itself is already indirectly a penalty on the childfree, who may already have more income from more wages, higher education levels, etc. I’m sort of resigned to the idea that those who make good decisions often have to clean up after those who make bad ones. There are plenty of people in need because of their own bad judgment and bad decisions. I guess I lump parents into that category sometimes.

    1. Scott–thanks for all the comments! All great thoughts….the taxes issue is such a good one. I agree that you can look at tax break for having kids is punishment for not having them. We are reinforcing the wrong thing in my opinion. The Italy and Germany facts are uncomfortably similar..question: how can men get rewarded for having many children And for being bachelors who did not have them? Maybe I am reading wrong, but please clarify — progressive taxation would not necessarily penalize the childfree–many do not have incomes or household incomes. It is a bit of a myth that the childfree have more income than parents. While it can be true it is not something that should be seen as a “stereotype.” — Just what I have seen! ~L

  5. I am so glad I am not the only one that feels as the childless are being punished for not having children!

    I do not mind paying my share of taxes for schools and other programs (because education of others children directly affects everyone) but why am I paying MORE for education than someone who has 3 children?
    “Children are expensive” is not a valid excuse for tax breaks.
    Children ARE expensive and THAT is why I do not have them! And by the way, the tax breaks from having a child will not be enough for me to raise a child so that is an invalid argument as well.
    I own a dog. Dogs are expensive. Why don’t I get a tax break to help me with the dog? I want a nice home. Why don’t I get a tax break for a nice home(don’t even start with the interest deduction…you are still paying money for a home and you gain nothing if you purchase a home with cash)?

    Children are a choice. They are not some unfortunate even that happens and thus you deserve a “break” because you had children. We need to wise up that children are not free.

    So ironic; those who are responsible and can’t have children do not have them because they are responsible. The irresponsible will never think twice about having a child and would have many. Statistically what does that leave: The majority of children being raised by irresponsible parents. Awesome.

  6. Well said Stephanie. It really grinds my gears that, in the eyes of the child-burdened, we childfree people enjoy some kind of undeserved benefit (be it a waistline, sleep-ins on weekends, a continued sex-life with our spouse, the ability to consume relatively more adult goods than the child-burdened) and in their twisted logic, this is some kind of inequity that can only be rectifed by imposing a fiscal burden on the childfree.

    And yes, just because something is arguably “expensive” does not mean that it ought to attract a subsidy. I use the term “arguably” because I do question whether having children is actually as expensive as the yuppie middle-class childmakers claim. The reality, as one Australian academic explained, is that children do not really add expenses to a family and additional children become progressively cheaper if the parents subsititute their consumption of adult goods. What the modern yuppy middle-class child-makers want is to maintain their pre-natal consumption habits and have their baby too — and demand that the Aussie tax-payer pony up for this.

    When confronted with evidence of their insatiable greed, how do breeders respond? With a typically smug and trite argument that one day I will be old, and their children will tend to me in the nursing home. And what is with that tiresome, hoary old chestnut from breeders about how they are making taxpayers of the future? No. No parent has children with mine or the nation’s future in mind so they can knock off that faux altriusm.

    The child makers are so convinced that handouts and workplace flexibility are their justifiable reward making for the much-fabled taxpayers of the future (TM). Apparently handouts and family friendliness guarantees parent-child bonding that, in turn, guarantees an army of lawyers, doctors and nurses all champing at the bit to pay taxes and wipe my sorry childless a$$ in the oldies’ home.

    Just what is it with their obsession with wiping bums anyway?

    Oh sure. As much as I will no doubt appreciate the assistance should I lose bladder and sphincter control, it’s not really an argument. But is that really coming to fruition? For a start, how many parents out there are actively promoting Nursing Home Assistant as a career option? Mummy is hardly going to encourage little Conner or Dakota to give up a career as an business manager for life as a bum-wiper in a Moran health care facility, as if they will be so proud when young Snotleigh or Screamleigh comes home one day announcing that s/he has eschewed the corporate fast-track or set aside that degree for a profession and will be working for a pittance in an old folks’ home. Besides, a report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare debunks the myth of the fragile older person, noting that LESS THAN 5% of 85 year-olds needed full-time care.

    Like the Kiwi writer from across the pond (that is Aussie-NZ speak for the south Pacific Ocean), I have no qualms about my taxes paying for ***children’s*** health and welfare because there is a measurable public benefit from an educated and healthy society. What I find objectionable is that poor working class singles are effectively cross-subsidising the private consumption choices of the ***adult*** members of wealthy households that have children. There is strong evidence to show that, in the last decade, t the wealth of households with children has grown more (as
    a percentage) than households without children.

    There are breeders on numerous fora who feebly posit my opposition to taxpayer funded parental benefits is inconsistant given that “your taxes pay for many things you do not use.” That is a false analogy. Yes, I do not drive but I am happy for my taxes to pay for roads because I can access a road at any time. Same goes for a judicary, defence, infrastucture and so on. All these things ARE public goods. But I fail to see why I should pay parents *private cash* because they do not want to change their consumption habits after making a baby.Indeed, children are mostly private goods; they are enjoyed soley by their parents.

    Dear breeders reading this; if having a child is so awful, so burdensome, then don’t do it. No-one is forcing you. It’s true that losing the income for a few months is difficult if you’re used to a higher level of consumption, but the obvious solution is for the household to budget for that. But if you go ahead and find that your life as a parent ain’t all rainbows and lollipops, don’t you DARE come to me and tell me I now owe you some kind of perverse noblesse oblige when truth is, you resent me because I have dodged the bullet. I will spare you no mercy.


  7. What I don’t like are the contradictions within pronatalism, and the tax question brings them right out.

    On the one hand, we childfree are supposed to be subjects of pity because we’re missing out on all the great things of life. Parents are supposed to feel sorry for us because we’re missing out on the most wonderful thing and our lives are pale shadows of theirs.

    On the other hand, we childfree are living it up with all of our discretionary income, living life like it’s one big party, and we are subjects of envy and jealousy because of our carefree ways. We have so much “extra” income that we can afford to pay more in taxes.

    So, make up your mind, pronatalists. Which is it? How can we be pitied AND envied?

    If we’re expected to pay more in taxes because our lives are so much easier, then fine, that means the tax code recognizes that our lives are more carefree. That means we can’t really be all that pitiful if parents want a piece of our lives.

    But hey, if I’m so pitiable because I have no kids, then have pity on me and don’t add insult to my misery by adding more taxes.

    I’ll accept either one but not both. Fair is fair.

    P.S. To clarify my earlier post — the bachelor tax was on men in fascist Italy who did not get married. The fascist government wanted men to get married because they wanted lots of babies for the state. In Nazi Germany men and women who did not produce children faced financial penalties and employment barriers. And, of course, women who gave birth to more than a certain number of kids got patriotic medals. (The Duggars would have been highly decorated in Nazi Germany.)

  8. I know! What kind of warped society charges nonparents more in taxes than it does parents? I mean that’s just….um….

    Oh. Right.

  9. Actually, I don’t doubt the figures occasionally given in the press for how expensive raising kids is. Most parents will need daycare at least part time–that can get really expensive (over a thousand a month PER KID), especially if you live in a city. And you can no longer live in that cheap little one-bedroom apartment either–gotta upgrade. Also, need to move to a good school district (with a more expensive mortgage and higher property taxes) and possibly get a bigger car (gotta get rid of the little two-seater; where will the car seat go?). And if (or rather, when) mommy gets mommy-tracked at work (or stays home), opportunity costs from her lost wages can run into the millions over the years, especially if she has/had a professional-level job.

    From there, we get into optional things, like extra plane tickets every time you travel and a bigger hotel room to accommodate more people. Violin lessons. After-school sports. A computer for them to do their homework on. And none of this is even considering college costs, or the costs of having to support a child into adulthood if they can’t (or won’t) find a well-paying job, which is becoming more and more common in this economy.

    No, I don’t find it hard to believe at all that a kid can cost hundreds of thousands by the time you’re done, taking everything (including the intangibles) into consideration. Though you are right that a second kid would cost less, not just because of hand-me-downs, but because you’ve already invested in the infrastructure (larger house/car, scaling back mom’s work schedule, etc.) needed to raise kids. It’s kind of like pharmaceutical research–the first pill costs a billion dollars to make, and the next million pills cost two cents, because you already did the expensive part (the R&D).

    If I really, really wanted kids I would probably ignore the financial stats and just assume we would Make It Work Somehow(TM). But this is just one more reason I’m very glad to be CF.

    (As for taxes, I do think the child tax credit should be eliminated, or at the very least, means-tested. If you’re going to give out tax breaks, give them to people who need them to feed and clothe Junior, not people who will use them to buy Junior the newest iPhone. And I’m ok with paying property taxes that fund schools, since a well-educated populace benefits us all, but since parents benefit more from schools than I do, I think they should have to pay more, and pay more for each additional child. Like, if people without kids pay N, then parents of one child would pay N+1, and parents of two, N+2, etc. until the kids are out of school.)

  10. It’s simple: We should all pay the same percent, but there should be no child tax credits. Even as a CF married woman, I believe paying for education benefits me as I am part of a bigger picture. I am glad that children are being educated and prepared to be productive members of society (don’t even get me started on the quality of the education, but it’s better than nothing). That’s a slippery slope, what about elderly, should they not pay education taxes because they don’t use the system? Every year around tax time I am completely frustrated by the fact that all of my friends w/children are off shopping with their tax refund while I am writing out a check (even though I claim 0 and give the max amount all year long). All I want is a fair game, why in the world should people get a credit just for having children, makes no sense to me. Oh, I know why… because it benefits the majority so who in the world is going to vote it down?

    1. I am with you – no child tax credits – well except if you adopt. Id like to see incentives for people to take care of the children who are already here, and let go of the pronatalist thinking that ‘bio is best’ – that you have to go to IVF mat etc before going to the ‘last resort’ of adoption when you want to become a parent….

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