If the GOP repeals the adoption tax credit the party should disband

Does the leadership of this party have actual, diagnosable brain damage? Of all the places in the tax code they could try to find some extra revenue, the supposedly pro-life GOP decides to squeeze … middle-class adoptive families?

While funding Planned Parenthood in their budget?

While our billionaire president is grumbling privately to Democrats that they should repeal the estate tax, which only bites the mega-rich?

We’re past the point of wondering whether the GOP wants to lose. The question now is whether they deserve to lose. Judging from this account by Haley Byrd of the IJR, all signs point to yes:

The adoption tax credit only costs $300 million per year. It’s not even pocket change for Uncle Sam. For the GOP, allegedly the party of social conservatives, to nuke it over a pittance of savings feels like almost deliberate sabotage of adoptive families. What the hell are they thinking?

But it gets worse. As John McCormack points out, in the long run the adoption tax credit pays for itself, in both tangible and intangible terms:

“What they don’t factor in is the total cost to society with a child in foster care,” Johnson tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD. The costs to taxpayers of keeping a child in foster care—health care, food, housing, social workers, and administrators—are far greater than the one-time tax credit adoptive families may receive.

“Comparing the per-child cost of subsidized adoption from foster care with the cost of maintaining a child in foster care, one concludes that the child adopted from foster care costs the public only 40 percent as much as the child who remains in foster care,” according to a report from the National Council for Adoption. “The difference in cost per child per year amounts to $15,480.”

Paul Ryan had the balls earlier today to shrug off complaints about repealing the adoption tax credit by noting that it primarily benefits the upper class. Meanwhile, notes McCormack, the GOP bill would reduce revenue from the estate tax — which only benefits the very uppermost of the upper class — by $172 billion over the next 10 years. Eliminating the adoption tax credit, by comparison, would save the government just $3.8 billion. Ryan’s willing to lose 50 times the amount of revenue that would be lost by saving the adoption tax credit in the name of letting mega-millionaires pass more money on to their kids. Bananas.

Even his point about the credit mainly benefiting higher-income individuals is misleading. It’s true that upper-middle-class families tend to claim the credit but that’s because adoption is so fantastically expensive that only upper-middle-class families can afford to do it. Forget the day-to-day costs of caring for an adopted infant; the adoption process itself can cost $35,000 or more. This Twitter thread by a Google engineer laying out the hardships of adoption went viral a few days ago because of how shocking the sums were. He claims to have spent $50,000 on adopting his first child, which includes fees for the adoption agency, lawyers, travel, hotels, medical care, and other miscellaneous expenses. The only reason he was able to afford it, he notes, was because he had Google stock to sell and even then he was stretched. Some adoptive families take out second mortgages, borrow from relatives, and so on. The tax credit gives them back $13,000 to help defray that. And even that comes with strings: David French, an adoptive dad himself, notes that the IRS audited nearly 70 percent of the families that received the credit recently to check for fraud. It found none.

The only principled argument for ending the adoption tax credit is if you believe the government shouldn’t redistribute taxpayer money via credits of any sort. That’s a fine libertarian view but it ain’t the GOP’s view; in fact, their tax reform plan proposes expanding the child tax credit modestly. If you’re going to have credits in the code, a robust one for adoptive families is a no-brainer. If anything, the mismatch between the current value of the credit and the reality of much more exorbitant adoption fees means Republicans should seize the opportunity to expand the credit. Shave $50 billion off those estate-tax cuts for the mega-rich and apply it to adoption so that more than just Google engineers and lawyers can afford to adopt. If you’re going to be a “pro-family” party, be pro-family.

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Jazz Shaw 5:31 PM on December 01, 2022