Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Taxes unto Death

There are times, many times, when I am certain this government is not fond of parents and families. Both LL and I work. This is not different from countless other families out there. We’re fortunate that our dual careers are fairly well recompensed. That means we have been able to pick and choose how our childcare works. Not every family has that option.

The same theme though is that childcare is a cost of taxed income. It is not subsidised by the state in any meaningful way. The assumption is that if you have kids, its your financial responsibility. To be fair, I don’t deny that. I want to raise my kids, I want that responsibility.

Yet it would be nice if there was some recognition that raising children is a benefit to society. If there was at least some casual link between childcare and taxation. This government has removed all that, taken away any tax benefit to being married or raising children (unless you’re a single parent on the doll).

For families with a stay at home mother, the ability for spouses to share tax benefit (ie to shift the minimum unpaid tax level from the spouse with no income to the spouse with income) was removed. I think that’s mad. Families who choose to keep one spouse at home, who loose that income benefit and give their children good care deserve support.

Equally, for those that have both parents working, there is no recognition that there is a cost attached to that. Childcare is paid out of taxed income, then is taxed again. Many families don’t have a choice about both parents working. Two incomes are necessary to maintain an adequate quality of life. Two workers are a net benefit to our society and productivity. That means childcare, and that means cost. There is precious little tax relief or benefit to help cover the cost of childcare.

For us, we’re able to have a full time nanny. We have to pay all of her income and tax out of our already taxed salaries (I've been doing the government reporting and writing the cheques recently, hence the rant). In any business, the cost of an employee is tax deductible (ie you take that cost away from income earned before you calculate any tax payable on the remainder). Not so for domestic employees. Those are considered a luxury.

Thing is, its not. We couldn’t do the jobs we do with any other type of childcare. Frankly, home childcare should be the norm, not considered a perk for the well off. Yet that would mean less tax for the exchequer, and that would mean likely fewer foreign endeavours. Goodness knows we need more investments in Iraq and Afghanistan...

Children are not a luxury. They are a societal necessity. Without a next generation our society would crumble. Ensuring, even encouraging people to raise children should be at the core of government, not something to ignore or even tax further. That doesn’t mean everyone should have children, that must remain a personal choice. Yet we’re making it more and more difficult to raise children, when we should be doing the opposite.


<< Home