New York Times: Stay-at-Home Parents Are Tax Cheats

uncle-sam-pay-your-taxes1If you’re a stay-at-home parent the New York Times thinks you’re a tax cheat.  Makes perfect sense, right?  You don’t have a job, yet somehow you’re robbing the government of tax revenue.  Josh Barro wrote a piece for the Times that details just how it is he thinks you’re getting an unfair advantage.

New York Times – President Obama’s proposal to expand a tax break for working parents with children under 5 has some conservatives criticizing it for discriminating against stay-at-home parents.

Those parents wouldn’t be able to take the proposed tax credit equal to 50 percent of child care expenses, up to a maximum of $3,000 per child. What the critics fail to see is that the playing field wasn’t level to begin with. The tax code is already hugely distorted in favor of stay-at-home parenting: Labor outside the home is taxed; household work, such as stay-at-home parenting, is not.

I realize that sounds like a bizarre thing to say. Why would there be a tax on parenting, and why would the lack of such a tax constitute a tax preference? But productive activities within the home are not especially different from the taxable work we do outside the home. We labor, and instead of receiving a cash wage, we receive something else we value: a clean house or a mowed lawn or a well-behaved child. In 1973, the economist John Kendrick estimated that unmeasured and untaxed household activities like child rearing amounted to about a quarter of the size of the whole economy as measured by gross national product.

When we hire people to come into our homes to do these things, the labor is counted as part of the economy and subject to tax. If I pay you to watch my child and you pay me to watch your child, we both owe income tax. If you and I each watch our own children, the I.R.S. collects nothing — even though we have done substantially the same work for the same benefit. This tax preference for housework over paid work creates a significant distortion: Some people (mostly women) choose to stay home when, absent tax considerations, they might work outside the home instead.

Leave it to a leftist to put forth the idea that work we do around our own homes is untaxed labor and is therefore cheating the government.  Who would have ever thought that anyone would consider such things as mowing your own lawn to be a lost opportunity for the government to suck in some more tax revenue.  With that line of thinking, is Barro a tax cheat every time he makes his own dinner instead of going to a restaurant? 

Barro’s assertions are so ridiculous they’re almost laughable, but I have no doubt he was serious.  If he truly believes what he wrote then obviously he has to consider those who stay home and receive government benefits to be the biggest tax cheats of all.  Not only are they not working or paying people to mow their lawns, they’re getting the tax dollars of those who do have jobs.  But of course, those who suck benefits from the government (from us, really) don’t factor into Barro’s equations when he calculates who benefits from tax breaks and who doesn’t.  To liberals, government dependency disqualifies people from being considered part of the problem just as much as being a stay-at-home parent disqualifies someone from being worthy of a tax break.  People who either don’t have to work or live in a one-income household are already winners in ‘life’s lottery’ and, as such, are not entitled to anything other than being socked with more taxes.  Perhaps the day will even come when Barro’s leftist friends in the government will find a way to tax us when we mow our own lawns.  Before you laugh just think about that for a minute and you’ll realize there are already people in our government who would do that if they could.

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2 comments to New York Times: Stay-at-Home Parents Are Tax Cheats

  • Leave it to a liberal to believe working at home equates to cheating on your taxes. The idea would be funny if it were not for the fact that they really do believe what they are saying. Pure stupidity.

    • To liberals, government and the state are their religion and they seem to consider higher tax revenue to be a form of worship. That being the case, those of us who advocate for lower taxes are committing blasphemy. Stay-at-home people who perform untaxed labor must seem like heathens to liberals.

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