Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Oklahoma passes tax relief for stay at home families

My friends at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs are delighted that their Democratic governor signed a tax bill giving a tax credit to families with a stay at home parent.
According to a news analysis published by the AP in March,

House Speaker Lance Cargill, R-Harrah, wants to give stay-at-home parents a credit on their state income taxes of almost $100 per child.
“It certainly is not taking away from those who utilize day care,” Cargill said. “It just treats stay-at-home parents on an equal footing when it comes to tax policy.”
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, many states give tax credits for child care expenses of families with two working parents, but extending that to stay-at-home parents is a novel approach.
“At this point, we’re not aware of other states with laws like this one,” said Bert Wausanen at the NCSL’s Denver headquarters....."
The idea first surfaced a couple of years ago in a joint letter to the editor by Brandon Dutcher of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a conservative think-tank, and David Dunn, research and projects director for the Oklahoma Family Policy Council, a nonprofit group associated with the national Focus on the Family organization of James Dobson."

Here is an excerpt from that letter, written back in 2005:

Right now, the playing field is not level. It is strongly tilted to encourage parents to choose government or other institutional child care options. Consider: Oklahoma has more than 30 programs for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Oklahoma is also one of the handful of states that funds universal preschool for all 4-year-olds. And Oklahomans who put their children in institutionalized day care benefit from both federal and state tax credits.

This policy emphasis on nonparental care exists despite the fact that parents – in nearly all the research data we’ve seen – overwhelmingly say they would choose to take care of their children themselves at home if that were a viable option....

Oklahoma policy-makers should create a state per-child tax credit worth some portion (say five percent) of the federal credit. Though it wouldn’t level the playing field entirely, it would be a start. And the revenue impact to the state treasury would be minimal, around $20 million.

The policy ultimately implemented by the legislature is not exactly this, of course. But state policy think tanks can take heart from the fact that sometimes, something constructive can be done. Feminists like to prattle on about "choice," never mentioning that the State has its big fat thumb on the scales when people are making their choices. This legislation goes some of the way toward leveling the playing field.
PS This month's edition of Perspectives, the magazine of Okalahoma Council of Public Affairs, just happens to have a cover article by yours truly.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We hope that is a good start and it will continue this important discussion in Oklahoma.

If you're also interested in the Federal tax treatment of day care versus stay at home child care, check out the bill in Congress by Senator Sam Brownback and Congressman Lee Terry to bring equal footing to stay-at-home parents!