More Single Parent Rhetoric



While I'm loathe to post two semi-political posts in a row, I can't stop myself. I have to take issue with this:

In an effort to encourage people to get married, Santorum has proposed eliminating head-of-household exemptions for unmarried parents, while tripling their value for married parents. "We shouldn't have incentives for people not to be married," he said in October.

First and foremost, this simply isn't true. Having recently filed my taxes, I have my paperwork handy.

In order to qualify for a Head of Household status, one has to be single and caring for others, which includes not only children and foster children, but also parents, step-parents...basically anyone that lives in your household and depends on your income for their living expenses.

The Standard Deduction for Head of Household is $8,500. The Standard Deduction for Married Filing Jointly is $11,600. The Standard Deduction for Single or Married Filing Separately is $5,800.

The quote left me under the impression that the Head of Household deduction would be greater than the Married Filing Jointly. Of course, it's not. If someone were looking for incentives based on tax code, the incentive to be married filing jointly is certainly greater than to care for others as a single person! 

If anyone thinks that $2,700 (the difference between the Single Standard Deduction and the Head of Household Standard Deduction) is enough to raise two children (or care for one or more of their elderly parents), they clearly have not looked at the price of milk in the last 80 years. Or diapers or clothes or school supplies. Here in SoCal, it doesn't even pay the rent for the additional bedroom!

The average cost of raising one child per year is nearly $14,000

So if you're single and wishing you could get that extra $2,700 in tax deductions: just say no. That "incentive" is not nearly enough to get the job done.

If you want to devote yourself to the care of another human being, if you want to hold a crying baby for hours, if you want to see how inventive you can be during emergency diaper situations, stand in line for hours at the kiddie roller coaster, at pre-school registration, at Back to School Nights, buying school supplies at Target, in the waiting room at doctor's offices and emergency rooms, decipher text shorthand, answer the question "what's for dinner?" ten billion times, go through 10 thermometers and 4 lamp shades in 3 years, get thrown up on in the middle of the night, get woken up to hugs and kisses (or tears), feel the truest, deepest love that could ever exist and bear witness (and responsibility) for being there for someone's entire life...and spend over $200,000 dollars in 18 years...then by all means, take that $2,700 deduction as the SMALL token it is once a year for a job well done.

April McCaffery is a single mom to two daughters, thriving in SoCal.


Credit Image: Alan Cleaver on Flickr

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