This week we learned of a new tax plan being put forth in Washington by the majority party. There will be a host of stories written discussing the ins and outs and the pros and cons. I have strong opinions when it comes to taxes, but I do not desire, with my musings today, to dissect the entirety of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. I will leave that to the pundits and the professionals.
I do, however, wish to spend some time on one aspect of this plan. I realize that this plan is in its infancy, which is why I want to address this now in the hopes that a change can be made as amendments and addenda are debated.
This new plan covers a great deal of the tax landscape, but I want to focus in on Section 1406. This section repeals the adoption tax credit. A tax credit that not only incentivizes adoption, but a credit that helps many families make their adoption dreams come true.
Adoption is expensive, messy, and requires a lot of effort. This has been the case for many years, which is why the tax credit was implemented in 1997. Over the past 20 years we have seen this credit go from $5000 to $13,570. Hundreds of thousands of families have been impacted by this credit as children both foreign and domestic have found their forever home. There is no doubt that this tax credit has assisted in getting more children out of the system and into homes.
I understand that difficult decisions must be made when looking at a budget. Priorities have to be set and cuts, oftentimes, have to be made. This is hard, but necessary work. I do, however, struggle to understand why this particular cut has to be made.
Adoption is not a polarizing issue. This is, for the most part, one area where the populous agrees. Children need and deserve a forever home. This isn’t about providing tax dollars for abortion or for pro-life pregnancy centers. This tax credit does not pit pro-choicers and pro-lifers against each other. This tax credit actually has bipartisan support. This is no small task in the current political climate.
We average about 135,000 adoptions every single year in this country. In 2014 we recorded 73,951 tax returns with adoption expenses included. When comparing this number with our average yearly adoptions we see that almost 55 percent of adoptions, in 2014, were benefited by the adoption tax credit. This number is substantial.
The adoption tax credit does not eliminate the overwhelming cost of adoption, but it certainly alleviates some of the burden. Families that choose to adopt are persistent and creative as they raise the funds to see their family grow. They take the necessary steps, they fill out the paperwork, they hire the attorney, they buy the plane tickets, they jump through the hoops, and they believe it all to be worth it when they finally get to embrace their new child. The least we could do as a society for these families and these children is to make those hoops more bearable and the costs less burdensome.
I pray that our leaders in Washington will do the right thing. Adoption will always be a little messy and difficult. I know that this adoption tax credit is not the fix-all we wish it to be, but this credit goes a long way in making forever homes a reality for thousands of children in this country and around the world.
posted by Andrew Wood, Executive Director of Hope Resource Center