By JILL DAVIES
Families who decide to have one parent stay at home may be given a tax credit, said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
Hatch is sponsoring a bill in the Senate that would extend the Dependent Care Tax Credit, DCTC, to families with a stay-at-home parent. The DCTC currently gives low-income families a tax credit based on the amount they spend each month on child care.
A tax credit is an actual dollar-for-dollar subtraction from the taxes a person owes, said John Gardner, manager of tax and restricted accounting at BYU.
“(With this bill) we establish that a parent in the home is child care, and sacrificing a second income is an expense,” Hatch said. “If our bill can enhance the economic viability of this choice for some families, that is all the better.”
The bill presumes that a stay-at-home parent has at least $150 of child care expenses per month. Fifty percent of the total yearly child care expenses would count as a tax credit.
The tax credit would apply to families with children three years old or younger. Families with an annual income of $30,000 or less would be eligible for the maximum tax credit.
Family Science Professor Alan Hawkins said he agrees with Hatch’s philosophy that parents can provide the best care for their children.
“Parents can give the best care — we know that,” Hawkins said. “But my suspicion is that (the tax credit) won’t be enough to make the difference.”
Tiffany Jessop, 26, a social studies teaching graduate from Orem, and her husband both work to support themselves and their two-year-old daughter. Jessop said that while the bill is a good idea, it is not enough to take the place of a second income.
“Since it isn’t actually money coming to parents, I don’t see how it can keep them from working. I doubt that they’ll ever be paying people to stay home,” Jessop said.
While the bill may not be enough to persuade parents not to work, some parents who already stay at home say it would help make ends meet.
Kimberly Briggs, 22, a community health graduate from Othello, Wash., said she and her husband supplement his income by being senior residents at Y-Mount. They are the parents of an 18-month-old daughter.
“We both wanted me to stay home with my little girl, so that wasn’t a hard choice,” Briggs said. “The hard part is it’s tight every month. (The tax credit) would help us tremendously.”
Rebecca Young, 22, a choral music education graduate from Madera, Calif., said since she is committed to staying home with her two daughters, the tax credit sounds like a good idea.
“It’s hard to make it on one income. Rent is more than half of what we pull in,” she said.
In addition to rewarding stay-at-home parents, the bill would make child care more affordable, Hatch said. It would raise the income level at which families become eligible for maximum tax credit to $30,000 and raise the maximum percentage that parents can deduct from their child care expenses to 50 percent.
The bill would also provide a tax credit for employers who supply child care for their employees.