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Should you pay more taxes if you don't have kids?

A Slate columnist argues that childless Americans should pony up some more cash for taxes and that parents should get a bigger break.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 8, 2014 12:35PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News. 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyNonparents should pay higher taxes so that lower- and middle-income parents can receive a much-deserved tax break. That's the proposal of conservative columnist Reihan Salam.

Baby with money © Creatas, Photolibrary"The willingness of parents to bear and nurture children saves us from becoming an economically moribund nation of hateful curmudgeons. The least we can do is offer them a bigger tax break," Salam, who is childless, said.

Not surprisingly, Salam's proposal has ignited a fiery debate, as you can see on

"Childless by Choice" from New York City said, "How about couples who have more than two children pay MORE taxes, given that they've now foisted upon a dying planet yet another mouth to feed, another consumer of resources, and another generator of waste and pollution."

It appears that many people, like me, who think Salam's proposal is ludicrous, were surprised and saddened by the anti-child vitriol expressed by many people online. "Dan from New York" spoke up for those with kids:

Social Security, Medicare, etc. All these program are designed with the concept that there are replacement people to continue funding it. Most studies show people who grow past 80 will easily take out more than they put in. If you haven't produced kids, then you are relying on other people to subsidize you. … Who do you think will be paying for the hospitals, roads, your benefits when you are 80 -- your dog? Or my kids?

U.S. parents already receive some tax breaks -- about $171 billion annually, CNN Money said. The breaks include the earned income tax credit, child tax credit, child and dependent care tax credit, and the dependent exemption and head of household filing status for single parents.

But with the cost of raising a child until they're 18 estimated at $241,080 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and that doesn't include secondary education, Salam thinks parents are entitled to a more substantial tax break.

Personally, I share the opinion of John Seager of Population Connection. In The New York Times, Seager said, "We should refrain from punishing or rewarding personal decisions about the size and shape of our families."

As I write this, my 11-month-old is crawling around my feet, and pulling himself up on my chair, trying to reach my laptop. My almost 4-year-old is eating a snack and watching "Frozen." My husband and I can afford to have two children. We discussed the affordability issue before we started our family.

I don't view children as a drain on the Earth's limited resources, but rather the very future of our planet. That said, I do not agree with having childless taxpayers foot a bigger portion of the tax bill so I can pay less.

What do you think? Should childless people pay higher taxes?

More on Money Talks News:


Apr 8, 2014 1:56PM

Much of my property tax goes to public education and feeding them breakfast and lunch. That isn't enough? And to top it off, by the looks of it, the high school parking lot looks like a car dealership lot with most cars newer than mine.  

''Can't afford'em? Don't have'em.''

Apr 8, 2014 1:39PM
Childless couples ALREADY pay more in taxes - it's called the School Dept and playground funds and Boys & Girls Clubs in whatever town you live in. How about giving US the tax break?
Apr 8, 2014 1:51PM

Mr. Salam and "Dan from New York".... So, you're saying that since I am unable to have children that I should foot an even bigger share of the taxes? How ridiculous! I am not childless by choice, and I nearly killed myself with medical treatments trying to be able to have just one child. I most likely will not live to the age of 80 (or even 65, lol), so don't worry about my becoming a "drain" on resources, Social Security, etc.. I pay my property taxes, income taxes, etc., so that other people's kids can go to a supposedly free school, only to have those same kids vandalize my home & vehicle. I, for one, am tired of subsidizing other people's children, and then shell out even more money to repair what those children destroy.

IMHO, don't have kids unless you can afford them! There are things a person can do, other than abstinence, to avoid having a house full of kids that you can't afford & properly supervise. And you can do those things without breaking the bank.

Apr 8, 2014 3:10PM

Dear people who think your vagina is a clown car,

My younger brother with 4 kids gets more back in taxes than he pays in during the year. I don't have kids and paid about $20k to the feds last year.

If you're thinking about making the system more fair, how about taking away some of the deductions for the people who have kids by the litter?

Apr 8, 2014 1:53PM

This is obviously headed in the wrong direction.  People without children have a responsibility to prepare for their own old age care instead of having children to depend on to care for them when they get older.  This article is advocating that people without children sherk this responsibility to pay for the raising of someone elses child.  A child that they didn't participate in the creation of, a child that they didn't participate in the raising of, and a child that will have no obligation to care for them when they get older.


Not only should all the deductions and credit be eliminated for having children but the burden of supporting a school system should be born by those that elect to have children.

Apr 8, 2014 3:38PM
As a father of two kids, you know I'm not biased when I say that having kids SHOULD be a financial burden. Having a child should be a priveledge reserved for those who are willing to sacrifice to get it and be financially ready to do so. While I agree that we do need a future generation to support us economically, we need a future generation of good people, raised by caring parents and instilled with good life values. We don't need deadbeats raised by parents looking for another handout.
Apr 8, 2014 1:45PM
Everyone needs to pay less in taxes with the government spending less.  Next, you support yourself and your kids, I support mine, you support yours... makes sense (end the welfare state we are in).
Apr 8, 2014 2:31PM
Why if you have children are you automatically entitled to a tax credit? I already pay school taxes and don't have children using the school system.  I believe I already pay taxes for Medicare, Social Security and Unemployment.  Where is my advantage?

Apr 8, 2014 1:38PM
This suggestion is trying to avert a disaster after creating a problem and not addressing the root cause. It would be smarter to educate kids/grownups to not have kids unless they know they can take care of one (financially, morally and mentally). I do agree that things could go wrong and dont always workout as planned and so I am not against welfare, additional subsidy for single moms and dads and any other deserving benefits. However, that benefit should be for the deserving not for the ones sitting at home and making procreation as a career.

Apr 8, 2014 1:49PM
If we're basing the decision about how to tax (or not tax) people on how much their children will contribute to supporting society in the future, shouldn't we take into account that some of these children will end up in jail, and my tax dollars will have to pay for that?  Or that some will end up making less and therefore contributing less to social security?  Just because someone has children does not mean that those children will benefit society in any way.  Maybe you should get a credit later if your kids turn out well.
Apr 8, 2014 2:06PM

If you haven't noticed it's usually the poor that pumps kids out left and right, so giving them more of an incentive to have more kids is ludicrous. They can't afford the kids they have now and If you can afford to have 6+ kids then you don't need a tax break to begin with.

Social security is dead anyways because politicians can't keep their hands off the money, people should take responsibility for themselves and start 401k's and IRA's and just end social security.  The money they take out of my pay check each week would be more then enough to find my own retirement.

Apr 8, 2014 1:32PM
The willingness of parents to bear and nurture children saves us from becoming an economically moribund nation of hateful curmudgeons. The least we can do is offer them a bigger tax break,"- that statement itself is laughable.
Apr 8, 2014 1:44PM
Also - let's get the terminology correct - it's not childLESS, it's childFREE.
Apr 8, 2014 2:33PM
It is the people who have children who are putting pressure on this already struggling planet. I think that anyone who has more than two children should pay a planet tax to go towards cleaning up the mess that the human race is càusing .
Childless people should be rewarded for not impacting the overpopulation issue. 
Apr 8, 2014 2:10PM
That's got welfare recipients written all over it!! Stop minority's from having multiple out of wedlock baby's for money!!!!!!!! Wake up america! Why is there so much crime in the inner cities? You figure that one out!! Oh better yet ask Al Sharpton!
Apr 8, 2014 1:41PM

What B.S. The world is growing exponentially in humans (the most wasteful of the species on earth), but the resources available to sustain all those people are not. Many children are born into families lacking one or more of the three things necessary to raise an adult 1) financial resources to feed, clothe & shelter them 2) the intellectual capacity to help them learn so they complete at least a H.S. diploma 3) the ability to instill a moral compass to discern right from wrong.

Fewer people means less competition for jobs and higher wages (because the supply of people doesn't meet the demand).  Higher wages would enable me to builder a larger retirement investment portfolio and rely less on a government system. I'm not sure I'm going to get all I've been promised from that system that I was forced to pay into. Plus, unlike my investment portfolio, people or causes I care about cannot inherit my Social (In)Security.

Apr 8, 2014 1:45PM
the tax man comes for us no matter what.  first they tax you for not having insurance  now for not having children... amazing
Apr 8, 2014 2:01PM
Hey author, are you happy to see me or is that an EBT and WIC card in your pocket?
Apr 8, 2014 1:49PM

I bet Huggies, Pampers, and Gerber are some of Salam's biggest donors.

Apr 8, 2014 2:56PM
WTF People with no children cannot claim exemptions on their tax returns and have to pay for public school, What needs to be done is to remove the tax exemption for having children, If you want children then YOU pay for them not me. 
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