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The Childless Pay Their Taxes

The Audacity of Slate

Reihan Salam wrote the piece Tax The Childless in an effort to rally parents into voting. In it he states, “By shifting the tax burden from parents to nonparents, we will help give America’s children a better start in life, and we will help correct a simple injustice.” Parents work hard therefore they are owed a tax break. To put it succinctly.

I am beyond exhausted with the accolades paid to parents. I KNOW that parenting is difficult. I KNOW that raising functional members of society is an awesome burden. But at what point may I begin singing my praises as well as those of others like me?

By that, I mean DINKS (or SINKS if you are not in a committed relationship). Dual-Income-No-Kids. My husband and I made the choice not to have children. I emphasize that word because having a child is a choice. Therefore, by making that choice, you accept all the consequences–good and bad–that go along with it.

What praises you may ask? What accolades could someone like me possibly merit? While I saw many of my friends have children–both planned and unplanned–I chose to get my MBA while working full-time. I currently have over $50,000 in student loans to pay back; a debt for which I take full responsibility. In the peak of the housing bubble, I did not run out and get a mortgage I could not afford. Instead, I stayed renting–a choice I continue to make to this day. I studied hard and obtained additional licensing in my industry so that I could grow in my job and earn the salary I currently have. I have never asked for pity because every one of the afore-mentioned choices I made were just that–my choices. I am not owed loan forgiveness. I am not owed a house. I do not feel others owe me very much.

What am I owed? I feel I am owed at least a bit of praise for making choices that do not become a burden to others. I would not be asking for even this little favor, except I am so tired of heaping praise on others for their choices–and then being asked, no being expected to pay for them. I pay my fair share in taxes. I believe a portion of my tax-bill goes towards the local public school. I believe more tax dollars go towards social programs, many of which go to the benefit of children. I do not have children, yet I pay these taxes.

Now, I pay them willingly, even gladly.  It is to the benefit of society to have great schools. It is humane to make sure that poverty does not prevent a child from being fed. But where I do draw the line is when some like Reihan Salam writes a piece saying that I should pay higher taxes because I owe parents a tax-break. Parents already have tax-breaks for having children. And I already pay for other peoples’ kids.

Parents play a difficult and vital role to society. I have never said otherwise, and not wanting that burden is the primary reason I chose long ago not to have kids. But parenting isn’t the only job that is hard work and a financial burden.  I don’t believe that not having kids means that you owe the money you’ve earned to those who are raising families. I have been heartened by the numerous comments to the piece–many of them by parents–who fully acknowledge that it is a personal choice to have kids and therefore others should not bear the financial obligation. To you I say thank you. Thank you for acknowledging that people should bear the responsibility for their actions. Thank you for understanding that people like me should not be penalized for not making the same choice you did.

To Mr. Salam I say there is nothing stopping you from writing a personal check to the US Treasury. Since, as a childless man, you feel it is right to pay more. But stop forcing others to pay for your guilty conscience. I sleep just fine at night, but I’ll sleep better with your hands off my paycheck.

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