March 17, 2021 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors
Last time I discussed the latest bill out of Washington that, in addition to many, many other things, would see the federal government sending $300-checks every month to families for every child under the age of five in the household. Checks for $250 per month would go for children over the age of five. I pointed out that, along with the various other cash and non-cash benefits for parents with kids, the new law will encourage the marginalization of fathers. Fathers tend to be the main providers of cash resources for their families, whether they’re married or divorced. Therefore, cash for kids tends to replace Dad.
But now, a long-time and intrepid supporter of the National Parents Organization has sent me still more information on the new bill and, as before, it’s all about kicking dads to the curb.
The linchpin of the whole thing is that both existing law and the one that’s about to be signed into law ignore non-custodial parents. About 80% of non-custodial parents are fathers and they have, on average, between 30% and 35% of the parenting time. That means they incur between 30% and 35% of the costs of raising the children in addition to the child support they pay, but nowhere is there any dispensation made for that painfully obvious fact. All the money and all the child tax credits go to the custodial parent while non-custodial Dad is left to shift as best he can. The same was true of the two previous COVID relief bills and the tax law that preceded COVID.
So, if Mom and Dad are divorced and have one child whose custodial parent is Mom, her total benefit from all three COVID bills plus existing tax law comes to $12,659 and Dad’s comes to $3,738. From the first COVID bill, she received $1,200 for herself and $500 for the child and he received $1,200 for himself. From the second bill, she got $600 each for herself and the child and he got $600 for himself.
From this third bill, she’ll receive $1,400 for herself, $1,400 for the child, an additional $300 for the child (if he/she is under five) and an increase in her child tax credit of $1,000. Dad will receive $1,400.
From already existing tax policies, Mom receives $675 as head of the household, $3,584 in the Earned Income Tax Credit plus the minimum of $1,400 child tax credit. From those policies, Dad receives $538 in the EITC.
And of course, Mom’s benefits don’t stop there. She’ll continue receiving that $300 per month until the child reaches the age of five and then she’ll receive $250 per month until he/she becomes 18.
The point being that the various cash benefits and non-cash impacts on taxes bear no relation to either the time spent with the child or the expenses of raising the child borne by each parent. Shouldn’t they? If 20% of non-custodial parents were mothers, would they be treated the way non-custodial fathers are now? There’s no reason under the sun why the federal government can’t pro-rate these benefits to the parenting time exercised by parents, but that obvious and fair step was neither taken nor apparently considered. Such is the life of Dad.