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November 8, 2017

Keeping the Adoption Tax Credit Is a Pro-Life Policy

But the House GOP tax reform plan eliminates this credit, much to the dismay of family advocates.

Congressional Republicans recently released their tax reform plan to mixed reviews. Democrats, unsurprisingly, hate the plan — the mere thought of allowing workers to save even a single extra penny of their earnings from the greedy hands of government causes Democrats to go apoplectic that the rich don’t pay their “fair share.”

Most Republicans seem cautiously optimistic. Does this bill include everything conservatives want to see? No, but it provides a good working platform from which to begin. However, we’ll focus here on one provision that is raising concerns among fiscal and pro-life conservatives alike: the elimination of the adoption tax credit.

Adoption in America is extraordinarily expensive, averaging $34,000 to $39,000 for families seeking to adopt. The adoption tax credit is a $13,570 non-refundable credit that phases out for high-income families, so it truly helps lower and middle class families faced with what, for them, are staggering costs related to adoption.

It should be noted, clearly, that this is a tax credit, meaning a reduction in how much of a family’s earnings are confiscated by government. In other words, it’s not a payout to adoptive families; rather, it lets them deduct adoption costs — up to $13,570 — from their final tax bill. For many families, this can make the difference in whether or not they can adopt. And if they can’t afford to adopt, that’s one more child left in an orphanage or temporary foster home.

Explaining the decision, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-CA), himself the father of two adopted children, says the credit is of almost no value to lower-income families, and the additional income middle class families will keep via lower taxes would offset the money they’d lose from the elimination of the adoption tax credit.

Brady does have a valid argument… over the long run. Over a period of five or 10 years, tax simplification will more than offset in take-home pay what is lost by the tax credit. Unfortunately, the tax credit, like the costs associated with adopting, generally occur in a single year, which means adoption will be prohibitively expensive for many families.

And because this is unavoidably a political as well as a fiscal issue, Republicans need to be aware that the optics of this provision are very bad for their base, undermining a pro-life policy that reduces federal revenues by $300 million, a rounding error in the federal budget. This is especially egregious when juxtaposed with Democrats’ successful fight for their anti-life priority of funding Planned Parenthood to the tune of more than $500 million per year.

From a failure to defend long-held marriage laws, to funding the mass-murdering Planned Parenthood, Barack Obama’s administration was overtly hostile to the traditional family. This hostility extended to the adoption tax credit, with the Obama IRS auditing an astounding 69% of tax returns that claimed the credit, only to adjust tax bills by a few dollars here or there. Too bad Obama didn’t expend that must energy ending the $140 billion in annual Medicaid fraud.

Budgets reveal our priorities, and few priorities could be higher than helping abandoned children be placed in loving homes. The final bill will be a product of intense negotiations, but this provision is one Republicans should consider keeping.

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