No Kids? You Should Pay More Taxes!

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

Nonparents 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.

“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? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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  • Sarah Adkins

    As someone who is ChildFree by choice and refuses to have children (I can’t afford one right now anyway) I don’t see how responsible people should be punished for not reproducing. Quite frankly you can’t afford a kid if you think that you need more tax cuts, refunds, or credits than someone who had decided not to have children for whatever reason. It’s a bit absurd to think that everyone who reproduces is a good parent because it’s not the case. Assuming the people who don’t want children have more money or that they would have been bad parents is wrong as well. Don’t get me started on the marriage tax break when single people are taxed even more.

    • diane

      you are so right. I do not have children because I cannot afford them. There should be no tax credits for polluting the earth.

  • saff

    Totally agree with Sarah. I am ChildFree by choice as well.

  • Melodie

    I’m also childless. In my job I see how some parents suck of the government and keep having more children to get more free money. And we all hear the stories of spending that money on steak, lobster, new cars. Besides, every time I pay my property taxes I’m paying for other peoples children. How about we put that money in my social security account and see if I outlive what I paid in. While we’re at it how about we put all the money the government ‘borrowed’ from Social security back in plus all the interest that would have accrued and stop calling it an entitlement program, then we wouldn’t outlive what we put in!

  • Joseph Freitas

    I have a child but I agree with the childless camp. We already get some tax breaks for the kids. Quit frankly, if you have kids you use more tax dollars (most likely) on schools and other things for your children. There is certainly no argument that childless should pay more. Pay more for what? The argument using social security as a basis was misleading at best as although the current system functions in this way it is not how it is intended to function and should have no basis on a separate issue of taxation.

  • Jessica

    No way! I get grouchy enough looking at the school portion on my property taxes. When people make a decision NOT to have children for whatever reason they should not be forced to subsidize those who do. I feel that some people already have way more children then they can afford or should have or are able to raise properly due to the tax breaks and benefits they already get. I’d hate to see that problem increase.

  • Dennis Kozior

    I don’t have any kids but I’m still paying a school tax….and from the look of it in 2014 my monies are going to waste.

  • Jody Henderson

    My husband and I are childless and I have to say if you thought it was cake because we opted not to have kids think again!!! As a childless couple we have very few deductions and write-offs each year so we already pay more in taxes. In fact, to quote my accountant, ” You are the highest taxed people because you are white, not pregnant, and you have no prior children.” So explain to me how increasing my taxes because I chose not have kids because of a health condition the 5 doctors I saw told me was almost guaranteed to be passed down to my offspring is fair?? Explain to me what makes it right to give a family with several children preferential tax treatment? And who’s to say IF this did happen there wouldn’t be those women out there who are simply having children for the increased tax break? Tax treatment should NEVER be a reason to have children!! Reihan Salam, If you think in your pea sized brain this is remotely fair, you and your ideas need to renounce your citizenship and move to a third world country because your idea SCREAMS discrimination!!!!

    • Jody, we welcome your comments, but please refrain from being insulting. To be specific, don’t say another writer has a “pea sized brain.” Disagree, but please do it respectfully.

      • Jody Henderson

        Sorry this subject hits a really BIG nerve!

    • Johns.Opinion

      Women already have children just not to work. I live in a poor city called Woonsocket RI. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, crap I have to have another child because the government is going to cut my benefits. The whole system is whacked. I agree with you overall.

    • Deneen

      I don’t know anywhere on a tax form that ask about race. I am single and childless. Sure we are paying more because we are childless and therefore, have limited if any tax deductions. But, I also believe we pay more because we are part of the middle class. In my humble opinion, and experience, our country is run on the backs of the middle class.

    • disqus_NdarDMlkmX

      I’m an accountant and being white doesn’t necessarily mean you are the highest taxed people. Paying taxes is based on income not race. Jody, you just wanted people to know you are white.

  • CynicFan2

    Its funny that we want to use the tax code to perform Social Engineering. Why don’t we simply get rid of tax breaks altogether? Let people make decisions based on their own circumstances, not whether the Government will help fund it. I believe we’d be highly surprised that the taxes would significantly lessen for everyone if there were no deductions at all.

  • Jason

    When there are millions of children in the US alone waiting for adoption I can’t see giving people additional incentives to have children.

    Yes, social programs like Medicare and Social Security need young people to remain viable.. However, these replacements can just as easily be found through increased immigration instead of increase procreation. There is no shortage of people that would like to immigrate to the USA.

  • Jason

    I was talking about legal immigration.

  • BB

    I tried to adopt a child but was not good enough being a single woman, although employed with a good job. So I foster and adopt dogs. That’s where I put my money.

  • annabella

    I’m confused. This is my first year paying taxes so i really don’t understand how the whole thing works. But one thing i looked everywhere and id really like am answer is why do people would with kids get money? Like how come i don’t get that money because i choose to not have children? I don’t think that’s fair. Please don’t be mean about the answers either like i really just want to know lol thanks

  • puzzlefighter

    I have one kid and another on the way. I can afford them and do not need the tax break. Yet, it is there and so I will take it. Why wouldn’t I? That’s a free $1000 each year for 18 years for 2 kids = $36,000. That being said, this needs to go away. No one should be rewarded for having kids and no one should be punished. Childless folks should not be paying for my kids. Similarly, single folks should not be paying for my marriage and married people should not be allowed wider tax brackets. There’s no one forcing you to get married or have kids, and nothing about the tax code should be coercing you into having kids or getting married. In fact, having kids and getting married indirectly harms everyone else who didn’t make a similar choice, because now they have to pay more so you don’t have to. I say remove these credits and categories and have everyone be taxed the same.

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