The Latest

Scalia’s Legacy Lives On

by Worth Loving

April 24, 2018

As a nation, there are many days we set aside throughout the year to commemorate victories in war or honor those who have served our country in some capacity. Personally, many of us celebrate birthdays and anniversaries of loved ones and friends. Up until a year ago, April 10 didn’t mean much to most people. But, this year, it’s a very significant date for conservatives. It was on April 10, 2017, that Neil Gorsuch was sworn in as the 101st Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Only a year into his tenure, Justice Gorsuch has already left a mark.

Justice Antonin Scalia’s untimely death in February 2016 rocked a nation that was already in the midst of a tumultuous presidential election. For months, talk of his replacement dominated the news cycles and the presidential debates.

In the view of many Americans, the 2016 Republican and Democratic presidential primaries both yielded less than desirable candidates. But there was one overarching issue that drove people to the polls, something that would shape America’s future for decades to come—the Supreme Court. Pollster George Barna said it was a defining issue among SAGE Con (“Spiritually Active, Governance Engaged Conservatives”) voters, of whom 94 percent voted for Donald Trump. An NBC News exit poll found that 7 in 10 voters nationwide said that the Supreme Court was either the most important factor or an important factor in whom they voted for.

With Scalia’s death, the high Court was split between four reliably conservative justices (except on social issues, on which Justice Kennedy voted with the liberals), and four staunchly liberal justices. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to allow a vote on President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, ensuring that the next president would have that privilege.

With the help of the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society, apparent GOP nominee Donald Trump developed a list of 21 conservatives whom he pledged to choose a Supreme Court nominee from if elected president. On January 31, 2017, President Trump fulfilled that promise by nominating Judge Neil Gorsuch from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

After receiving Senate confirmation on April 7, Gorsuch was sworn in on April 10, 2017. A year later, he has yet to disappoint conservatives. Last summer, Justice Gorsuch showed his commitment to the First Amendment and religious freedom by ruling with the 7-2 majority in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer. In this case, Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbus, Missouri, applied for a state grant for playground safety enhancements but was denied because of its religious nature. Yet the First Amendment prevents the government from doing this; it may not exclude a religious entity from a public program and treat it worse off simply because it is religious. The majority ruled in favor of Trinity Lutheran Church, with Justice Gorsuch joining Justice Clarence Thomas in a concurring opinion strongly protective of religious freedom.

Justice Gorsuch has also shown a strong inclination to protect First Amendment rights to religion and speech in two cases to be decided in June this year. In Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Gorsuch appears concerned that baker Jack Phillips’ First Amendment free speech and free exercise rights have been trampled on by state authorities who forced him to create a custom wedding cake for a same-sex marriage. Additionally, a few weeks ago at oral argument in NIFLA v. Becerra, Gorsuch expressed deep unease that a California law requiring pregnancy resource centers to promote abortion violates the First Amendment prohibition on government-compelled speech.

Candidate Trump promised to nominate someone in the mold of the late Justice Scalia, an originalist who would strictly adhere to the Constitution and be a staunch defender of life and religious liberty. After a year on the bench, Justice Gorsuch hasn’t disappointed and has proven that he was the right choice for the job.

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Free Speech in the Era of Social Media

by Worth Loving

April 20, 2018

In the last decade, the explosion of the internet has allowed us to reach a global audience almost instantly. Online social media platforms have become the primary way that people express their views, with 69 percent of American adults using some form of social media every day. And while these companies claim to be open platforms for all political discussion, some groups and individuals are finding there are limits to free speech.  

Since 2010, there have been an alarming number of incidents where conservative and Christian views have been censored on the internet. For example, in April 2015, GoFundMe deleted the fundraising campaigns for Sweet Cakes by Melissa and Arlene’s Flowers, two businesses that have declined to provide services for same-sex weddings and were raising money to help pay for legal fees. In January 2017, D. James Kennedy Ministries was denied access to AmazonSmile, a program developed by Amazon to allow customers to donate to the non-profit of their choice when making a purchase. Amazon based its decision on the SPLC’s designation of D. James Kennedy Ministries as a “hate group.” In July 2017, Facebook temporarily blocked over 20 pages of Catholic organizations and individuals that were followed by millions worldwide.

On Tuesday, “True Blue” recipient Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), a leading voice in Congress on digital free speech, joined a panel of experts at FRC to discuss solutions to online censorship. Rep. Blackburn was herself a victim of online censorship last October when Twitter blocked an ad for her Senate campaign, which they deemed “inflammatory.” The ad called out Planned Parenthood for their illegal sale of baby body parts.

Today we are faced with the difficult question of whether government regulation of a private enterprise is necessary to protect free speech. We encourage you to take time to watch the panel discussion and learn more about one of the most critical free speech issues of our time.

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For Air Force Colonel, the Right to Conscience Prevails

by Worth Loving

April 16, 2018

For over 20 years, Colonel Leland Bohannon has served his country honorably in the United States Air Force. He completed combat missions in both Iraq and Afghanistan and earned the Bronze Star, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and the Air Medal. Because of his hard work, Bohannon is now eligible for promotion to Brigadier General.

In May 2017, one of Col. Bohannon’s fellow airman decided to retire. Because Col. Bohannon was his superior, the Air Force entrusted Bohannon with the usual awards and gifts that are presented to retiring service members. Many of those awards asked for Col. Bohannon’s signature to recognize his colleague’s service. Col. Bohannon was willing to sign all the awards except one—a certificate of spouse appreciation. Col. Bohannon’s colleague just so happened to identify as a homosexual. As a devout Christian, Col. Bohannon could not in good conscience sign a certificate recognizing a same-sex union that violates his deeply held religious beliefs.

Although the certificate was optional and unofficial, Col. Bohannon approached his chaplain and JAG attorney for advice. Bohannon’s chaplain recommended that he seek a religious exemption. During the process of seeking an exemption, a two-star general told Bohannon that he would sign the certificate in his place, to which Bohannon agreed. Even though the certificate was signed by a higher-ranking officer—a high honor, the retiring master sergeant was not satisfied. He subsequently filed a formal Equal Opportunity complaint, alleging that Bohannon had discriminated against him because of his sexual orientation. After conducting an investigation, the Air Force confirmed the allegations were true and found Bohannon guilty of discrimination, halting his chances of a well-deserved promotion and jeopardizing his entire military career.

Together with our friends at First Liberty, Col. Bohannon appealed the decision to the Secretary of the Air Force. On December 6, 2017, FRC and the American Family Association delivered over 77,000 petitions to the Pentagon, calling on Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson to reverse the decision and clear Col. Bohannon of any wrongdoing.

On April 2, 2018, nearly a year after the ordeal first started, Secretary Wilson “concluded that Colonel Bohannon had the right to exercise his sincerely held religious beliefs and did not unlawfully discriminate when he declined to sign the certificate of appreciation for the same-sex spouse of an Airman in his command.”

This is a huge victory for religious liberty, especially for members of the military. Although President Trump has made great strides in protecting the right of every servicemember to freely express themselves, there remains much political correctness and social experimentation from the Obama years that needs to be weeded out. We applaud Secretary Wilson for standing up for the rights of every member of the Air Force.

James Madison said that “conscience is the most sacred of all property.” The right to live according to your conscience is the reason countless men and women have signed up to serve in the military. We should continue to fight for them. 

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Michigan Pastors Deliver 23,000 Petitions to Legislators in Support of Metro City Church

by FRC Action

April 11, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Yesterday, Michigan pastors delivered over 23,000 petition signatures to state legislators in support of Pastor Jeremy Schossau of Metro City Church and FORGE Ministries. The petitions were addressed to Rep. Camilleri and Rep. Zemke who called for an investigation into the church and ministry for hosting “The Unashamed Identity” Workshop — an event offered for teenage girls to learn what the Bible teaches about sexuality.

The petition urges Rep. Camilleri and Rep. Zemke to withdraw their request for an unconstitutional government investigation into Metro City Church and FORGE Ministries, and to respect the freedom of this church to teach what the Bible says about human sexuality.

Randy Wilson, Family Research Council’s National Field Director for Watchman on the Wall, made the following comments:

Pastor Jeremy Schossau’s leadership at Metro City Church has created a place that is governed by the precepts and principles of God’s word and is compelled by the love of God. The workshop offered by Metro City Church and FORGE Ministries was created to answer difficult and sensitive questions on identity and sexuality from a biblical perspective. Metro City is putting love into action by offering a safe place for teenage girls struggling with sexual identity issues from a biblical perspective not a personal opinion. For elected officials to call for an investigation into matters of the church is a gross violation of the First Amendment and government overreach.”

We’re seeing that the church is increasingly under attack. These petitions condemn this type of overreach by legislators Rep. Camilleri and Rep. Zemke who demanded a government investigation into Metro City Church. We encourage bold spiritual leaders like Pastor Jeremy Schossau to continue to stand by the truth of God’s word and speak it in love. This type of speech should always be protected by our government, not regulated,” concluded Wilson.

Click here to read the full petition.

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Even in Retirement, Air Force Veterans Continue Their Fight for Freedom

by Worth Loving

April 11, 2018

For over thirty years, Oscar Rodriguez served his country honorably as a Senior Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force. Since 2001, Rodriguez has delivered a speech at over 100 flag-folding civic and military events. The speech makes six mentions of God, mostly near the end:

Our flag is a beacon, recognized around the world to represent freedom during times of peace, or during times of war. This is what we live for. This is what we will fight for, and if necessary to touch the hand of God in her defense, the charge that we accept as Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines is a noble one for there is no heart stronger than that of a volunteer. Let us pray that God will reflect with admiration the willingness of one nation in her attempt to rid the world of tyranny, oppression, and misery. It is this one nation under God that we call, with honor, the United States of America. God Bless our flag. God bless our troops. God bless America.

Rodriguez delivered this speech many times in his official role as a member of the honor guard. In 2005, the Air Force issued an official script that was the only one to be recited at flag-folding ceremonies.

Rodriguez continued to deliver his own flag-folding speech, albeit not in any official capacity. In March 2016, the now-retired Rodriguez was asked by fellow airman Master Sergeant Chuck Roberson to give his flag-folding speech at Roberson’s retirement ceremony.  After learning that he could not prevent Rodriguez from attending, Roberson’s commander, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Sovitsky, told Roberson that Rodriguez could not give the speech as it ran afoul of the codified scripted speech, especially the references to God. However, because Rodriguez was retired from the Air Force and therefore a private citizen, he was entitled to give whatever speech he chose for the ceremony. Even after the disagreements over the speech, Roberson still wanted Rodriguez to give the speech at the retirement ceremony. On April 3, when Rodriguez rose to give the speech at the ceremony, he was forcibly removed by three uniformed Air Force officers. On June 19, 2016, the U.S. Air Force JAG Corps recommended an assault charge be filed against the officers who removed Rodriguez. The next day, Rodriguez’s attorneys at First Liberty sent a letter to the Air Force demanding an apology. On February 1, 2018, the Air Force refused to do so.

On April 3, 2018, two years to the day after the incident occurred, Roberson and Rodriguez are now suing the Air Force, Sovitsky, and the officers who removed Rodriguez. The charges include violations of due process, freedom of speech, free exercise of religion, and unreasonable seizure.

What seemed like a move towards uniformity was actually a veiled attempt to squelch Oscar Rodriguez’s freedom of speech. There is so much more at stake in this case than simply a formal apology from the Air Force; the First Amendment rights of every member of the U.S. military are in jeopardy. In 2016, 44,365 of you signed a petition in support of Senior Master Sergeant Oscar Rodriguez (Ret.) and Master Sergeant Charles Roberson, demanding that Colonel Raymond A. Kozak, commander of the 349th Air Mobility Wing, issue a formal apology on behalf of the Air Force. Now, we must continue to pressure the Air Force to acknowledge that they violated the First Amendment rights of Oscar Rodriguez, assaulted him, and disrupted a memorable ceremony for Charles Roberson and his family.

Our forefathers fled the persecution and oppression of western Europe because their freedom to speak and live out their faith had been compromised. Countless men and women have sacrificed life and limb so that everyone—civilian and soldier alike—may enjoy the God-given rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion. That’s why we must continue to stand with Oscar Rodriguez and our friends at First Liberty as they continue fighting for the right of every American to freely express themselves.

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Proposition 1: Protecting Safety and Privacy in Anchorage, Alaska

by FRC Action

March 30, 2018

Over two years ago, the Anchorage Assembly passed an ordinance allowing biological men into women’s restrooms and vice versa, all under the guise of preventing so-called “discrimination.” There have been only 12 complaints of discrimination; city officials won’t say whether any charges have actually been filed.

While the usefulness of the law remains unverified, the damage to women’s privacy is clear. Anchorage’s Downtown Hope Center, a faith-based shelter for abused and homeless women, is facing the possibility of fines, forced policy changes, and required “non-discrimination” training after it turned away Samantha Coyle, a biological man who identifies as a transgender woman. Coyle filed a complaint with the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission alleging the shelter should be required to open up its doors.

Proposition 1 aims to protect the safety of women and children by restricting intimate facilities — showers, locker rooms, bathrooms, etc. — to members of the same sex. Proposition 1 also protects businesses, churches, and charities by allowing them to set their own policies according to their beliefs and mission.

This referendum is unique in that residents may only vote by mail. Ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday, April 3 in order for them to be counted. (For help or answers to questions, click here.)

More and more cases like these will continue to spring up in Anchorage and across the country. We must protect the safety and privacy of women and children. With this vote, voters can help change Anchorage for the better. If you have friends or family living in Anchorage, urge them to vote “yes” on Proposition 1 on Tuesday to protect the safety of women and children!

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Record High 245 Members of Congress Score 100 percent on FRC Action’s New Scorecard

by FRC Action

January 30, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Family Research Council (FRC) Action released its scorecard today for the First Session of the 115th Congress. A record number — 245 Members of Congress — scored a perfect 100 percent for votes cast last year. Next month, FRC Action will honor these 245 Members with its “True Blue” award for displaying unwavering commitment and consistent support of faith, family, and freedom.

Family Research Council Action President Tony Perkins made the following comments:

It is very encouraging that a record number of Members of Congress have achieved a perfect pro-life, pro-family voting record in the year following President Trump’s inauguration. It is evident that the positive and productive focus on values issues in this Congress is due both to the 2016 election and the Trump administration’s emphasis on the planks of the GOP’s conservative platform. As a result, we now see Congress following the will of the American people when it comes to pro-life and pro-family issues.

We thank these Members of Congress for consistently voting to defend and advance faith, family and freedom. These ‘True Blue Members’ have voted to repeal and replace Obamacare, deliver long-needed tax cuts that are already providing much needed relief to working families, stand for religious liberty, overturn Obama’s transgender military policy, end the forced partnership between taxpayers and Planned Parenthood, and protect pain capable babies.

Americans should be encouraged to know that they have so many Members of Congress and a president who have begun the work of rebuilding our nation, and protecting the very values that made America great,” concluded Perkins.

Votes in the U.S. House and Senate included:

• No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion

• Disapproval of Obama’s HHS Title X Rule

• Obamacare Repeal and Replace

• Confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court

DOD Transgender Funding (Blocking Funding for Sex-Reassignment Surgeries)

D.C. Budget Autonomy

D.C. Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment

• Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

• Independent Payment Advisory Board Repeal

• Confirmation of Amy Barrett to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals

• Tax Cuts & Jobs Act

Click here to download a copy of the Vote Scorecard.

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Urgent Action Needed - Your Senators to Vote for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (S. 2311)

by FRC Action

January 25, 2018

On Monday, the U.S. Senate is expected to vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (S. 2311) sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), which is identical to the bill passed by the House in October. The bill would prohibit brutal abortions on unborn babies after 5 months post-fertilization, the point at which science tells us the children feel excruciating pain from being ripped apart in the womb. The bill would likely save over 13,000 human lives each year and directly challenges Roe v. Wade precedent.

After the House passed the bill in October 2017, President Donald Trump said he would sign this bill into law. Senators need to be held accountable on whether or not they believe pain-capable unborn babies should be aborted.

We know that abortionists like Dr. Kermit Gosnell, convicted of murdering born-alive babies and illegally performing late abortions, too often kill unborn children late in development. We should not be one of only seven countries in the world, along with North Korea, China,and Vietnam that have legalized abortion on demand after 20 weeks of development.

Unborn babies at this stage can feel pain as is evidenced by the fact that unborn children at this age routinely are given anesthesia during prenatal surgery. Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand testified before Congress that “the human fetus possesses the ability to experience pain from 20 weeks gestation, if not earlier and the pain perceived by the fetus is possibly more intense than that perceived by term newborns or children.”

Medical advances have enhanced our understanding of unborn human life and it’s time for the law to catch up.

Your two U.S. Senators need to hear from you! Please call your Senators and urge them to vote FOR the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (S. 2311) next week! After you’ve called, you can also email them by following this link

Thank you for your vital work in defense of innocent human life.

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10 Reasons Why We Marched for Life

by Patrina Mosley

January 22, 2018

This year marked the 45th annual March for Life to protest the Roe v. Wade decision that changed the course of human dignity in America forever. Forty-five years ago, seven Supreme Court justices ruled that it was perfectly legal, and in fact a right for a mother to kill her own child in the womb. The first March for Life was just a year after this 1973 decision and advocates for the right to life haven’t stopped marching since! 

Unlike the Women’s March, which had no clear purpose or goals (and if you were not a liberal, pro-choice, secular humanist who didn’t vote for Trump, you were not welcomed), advocates for life gathered for a purpose that extends beyond Trump Derangement Syndrome.

Here are ten reasons why we marched for life:

    1. Life is precious and we are made in the image of God. That image gives glory to God. Genesis 1:26-28 shows that people, human beings, are the crown of God’s creation because He patterned our design after himself. God did this for nothing else in His creation. We have His attributes and divine involvement in the procreation of life and all its stages. Psalms 139:13-16 beautifully records:
      “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

      Through this intimate account by the psalmist David, we see the attributes and glory of God as being all-powerful, all-knowing, and always present. This account only affirms what modern science can tell us today about the development of a baby in the womb.

    2. The abortion industry was built on a genocidal philosophy, and this philosophy is still succeeding today. Martin Luther King wasn’t the only one with a dream. The dream of Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, was to weed out what she called “the unfit” from society. This included the poor, the sick, the disabled, and minorities. In her own plans to market to the “unfit,” she cautioned, “We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population.” Today, over 79 percent of Planned Parenthood facilities are located within walking distance of black or Hispanic neighborhoods. Coincidence? I think not. Though abortion industry advocates might tell you that they are just concerned and want to provide access to those who are most vulnerable to unintended pregnancies or economic hardship, there is a reason this type of family planning started in these communities and continues to this day. How is it that the African-American community has been a part of this country as early as the 1600’s and represent less than 13 percent of the population today? This is true systemic racism.
    3. Abortion masquerading as “healthcare” is the biggest lie in America right now. Abortion poses an undisputed risk to women’s physical and mental health. After an abortion, it’s not uncommon to develop blood clots, hemorrhaging, and infection due to injury to the cervix. Abortion also increases the risk of breast cancer and premature births. Immediate medical complications affect approximately 10 percent of women undergoing abortions, and approximately one-fifth of these complications are life-threatening.
    4. The emotional and psychological harm done to women due to abortion is overwhelming—we must protect them both. The risk of suicide is three times greater for women who aborted than women who have not. Forty-two percent of women who aborted their child reported major depression by the age of 25. In a recent study done on 987 post-abortive women, only 6.6 percent of respondents reported using prescription drugs for psychological health prior to the first pregnancy that ended in abortion, compared with 51 percent who reported prescription drug use after the first abortion. A pro-life activist shared a statement she heard from post-abortive women that still sticks with her today: “Not a day goes by when the first thought that comes to my mind upon waking is ‘I actually PAID someone to kill my child.’”
    5. Abortion is neither empowerment nor a blessing. Abortion destroys life, glamorizes selfishness, enables reckless behavior, brings emotional trauma to both the man and the woman, and places an endorsement of complacency in building families.
    6. Convenience or coercion from others to abort a child does not determine inherent value or worth. Of the 987 women who participated in the study from above, 58.3 percent of the women reported aborting their child “to make others happy,” while 73.8 percent disagree that their decision to abort was entirely free from even subtle pressure from others to abort. A person’s value and worth should not be determined by if they are wanted or even healthy, but simply by being made in the image of God, and with that comes a plan for their life and the lives they will impact.
    7. It’s the right thing to do. To know the right thing to do and not do it is sinful and wrong for us to ignore (James 4:17). The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. even said: “The time is always right to do what is right.” Abortion is the most horrific injustice we could ever see—killing someone before they even have a chance to breathe. An estimated 60 million children have been extinguished from our society due to abortion.
    8. The hundreds of thousands who come to the March for Life annually have the power to change the hearts and minds of the American people, which can ultimately lead to changes in policy. Because we haven’t given up, we’ve seen massive pro-life legislation passed at the state level, and much of this legislation is gaining momentum at the federal level. On the day of the 45th March for Life, we saw the U.S. House of Representatives pass H.R. 4712, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would require any health physician present to administer life-saving care to a child who survived an attempted abortion. We also saw the biggest showing of White House support for the pro-life movement than ever before! For the second year in a row, Vice President Mike Pence addressed the crowd, stating “My friends, life is winning in America because Love Saves Lives,” referencing the theme of this year’s March for Life. Also, for the first time ever in American history, a sitting president, Donald J. Trump, visually addressed the March for Life. He said: “Americans are more and more pro-life… In fact, only 12 percent of Americans support abortion on demand at any time. Under my administration, we will always defend the very first right in the Declaration of Independence, and that is the right to life.”
    9. Because we love. The March for Life is one of the most selfless acts of compassion one can be a part of. Not only are you marching to save lives, but you are marching to remember the lives that are no more—many of whom you don’t even know. But that doesn’t matter because all you need to know is that it was a life—a life that was taken for the sake of profit and a mother who is now left to deal with the emotional trauma. We love them both, and that love compels each of us to march and be the defenders of life and the broken.
    10. We are not alone. At the March for Life, you get to see other people from all different backgrounds from across the country, even from other parts of the world, that value life just like you and are willing to brave the cold and go the distance to see the sanctity of life restored. It’s a brotherhood and sisterhood of a love of another kind. At this March, you didn’t have to be a “Never-Trumper,” a Republican, a religious person, or heterosexual. People from all walks of life were united in a simple belief: that every life has value and was created just as God intended, and therefore deserves justice.

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How the New Tax Bill Helps Families

by Andrew Guernsey

January 4, 2018

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1 “TCJA”), signed into law by President Donald Trump on December 22, 2017, provides numerous provisions that benefit working families.

Child Tax Credit

The Child Tax Credit (CTC) has a positive impact on individual families and the economy as a whole and helps parents bear the costs of raising their children.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act increases the CTC for 2018 through the end of 2025 (unless Congress renews it) by:

  • Increasing the CTC to $2,000 for children under 17;
  • Making the CTC refundable up to $1,400 (indexed for inflation) for low-income working families based on
    • 15 percent of earned income in excess of $2,500; or
    • (if greater) the amount of payroll taxes in excess of the earned income tax credit, for a taxpayer with three or more qualifying children;
  • Removing the CTC marriage penalty for the income phase-out, and increasing the income threshold to $200,000 for single filers and $400,000 for married couples filing jointly;
  • Providing a $500 non-refundable Family Care Credit credit for dependents who don’t receive the CTC; and
  • Requiring a qualifying child to have a Social Security Number for a taxpayer to claim the CTC

Obamacare’s Individual Mandate Penalty

Starting in 2019, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminates Obamacare’s individual mandate penalty. This helps many working families obtain relief from being forced into an Obamacare health insurance plan. Repealing the individual mandate penalty also allows individuals to forgo purchasing coverage if doing so violates their conscience. This is especially relevant for individuals who live in the states where there are few or no pro-life health insurance plans that exclude coverage of abortion.

Marriage Penalties

Marriage penalties exist in the tax code and also in welfare programs. The penalty generally applies in the tax code when a tax deduction or credit applies to single and married persons based on income, but a married couple is eliminated from receipt of the benefit making less than 200 percent of an eligible single person’s income.

Income Tax Brackets

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has no marriage penalties for five of seven tax income brackets for 2018 through the end of 2025 (unless Congress renews it).

  • Marriage bonus in the 22 percent bracket. Married couples filing jointly have a 2 percent lower rate than single filers for the first $25,000 they make over $140,000 in taxable income. This is a maximum $500 bonus, decreasing income taxes by up to 1.41 percent.
  • Small marriage penalty in the 32 percent bracket. Married couples filing jointly have an 8 percent higher income tax rate than single filers for the first $5,000 they make over $315,000 in taxable income. This is a maximum $400 penalty, increasing income taxes by up to 0.61 percent.
  • Large marriage penalty in the 37 percent bracket. Married couples filing jointly have a 2 percent higher income tax rate than single filers for the first $400,000 they make over $600,000 in taxable income. This is a maximum $8,000 penalty, increasing income taxes by up to 2.59 percent.

Alternative Minimum Tax

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduces marriage penalties for the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) for 2018 through the end of 2025 (unless Congress renews it) by removing the marriage penalty for the AMT income phase-out ($500,000 for single filers and $1 million for married couples filing jointly). TCJA retains the marriage penalty for the AMT exemption ($70,300 for single filers and $109,400 for married couples filing jointly).

  • Due to the marriage penalty in the AMT exemption,
    • Married couples filing jointly are taxed at 26 percent higher rate than single filers for the first $31,200 they make over $109,400 in taxable income. This is a maximum $8,112 penalty, increasing the AMT by up to 22.19 percent.
    • Married couples filing jointly have a 2 percent higher AMT tax rate than single filers for the first $31,200 they make over $295,700 in taxable income. This is a maximium $624 penalty, increasing the AMT by up to 0.71 percent.

Other Marriage Penalty Provisions

  • Retains a marriage penalty for the $10,000 State and local income tax (SALT), property tax, and/or sales tax deduction, which is equal in amount for single filers and married couples filing jointly. This is a maximum $3,700 penalty.
  • Removes the marriage penalty in the Child Tax Credit phase-out ($200,000 for single filers, $400,000 for married couples filing jointly).
  • Fails to address the marriage penalty for the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Alimony Deduction

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act permanently repeals the alimony deduction, which subsidizes divorce. A divorced couple can often achieve a better tax result by receiving a tax break for payments between them than a married couple can. Removing the alimony deduction restores equitable treatment for divorced and married couples’ expenses for child support.

529 Education Savings Accounts

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act permanently allows 529 education savings accounts to be used for up to $10,000 per year per child for K-12 tuition expenses at an elementary or secondary public, private, or religious school.

529 plan contributions have tax-free earnings and are exempt from the annual federal gift tax if under $14,000 for that year ($28,000 for married couples filing jointly). Contributions to 529 plans receive significant tax breaks in many states. Previously, the 529 plans were only allowed to be used for higher education related expenses.

Death Tax

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act doubles the tax exclusion from the estate tax, also known as the “death tax,” thereby shielding from taxation the first $11.2 million (indexed for inflation) of bequeathed assets. This provision applies for 2018 through the end of 2025 (unless Congress renews it).

The death tax is double taxation that handicaps families, and particularly family-owned businesses, by imposing heavy and burdensome taxes on bequeathed assets. Families often work as a unit to build their small businesses, but when a parent dies with the intention of leaving his or her small business to the children who helped build it, that transfer of assets is often taxed at such high rates that the business cannot continue operating and pay the government, causing the grieving family to close the business’s doors.

Adoption Tax Credit

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act retains the adoption tax credit in current law, which is currently a $13,570 non-refundable credit per eligible child (with a phase out for wealthier individuals). According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, in 2015 over 111,000 children were waiting to be adopted. Maintaining the adoption tax credit in current law helps adoptive children find loving families.

Standard Deduction and Charitable Giving

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act repeals the deduction for personal exemptions, including the taxpayer, the taxpayer’s spouse, and any dependents. The legislation consolidates the personal exemption for the taxpayer and taxpayer’s spouse into a larger standard deduction. The standard deduction is substantially increased from $6,300 to $12,000 for individuals and from $12,700 to $24,000 for married couples (and surviving spouses), giving working parents more take-home pay to provide for their families. The legislation consolidates the personal exemption for children and dependents into the expanded child tax credit and a new family tax credit to care for non-child dependents. However, increasing the standard deduction could harm charitable giving, including to nonprofits and churches, since fewer people will likely itemize.

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Scalia's Legacy Lives On
by Worth Loving (April 24, 2018)

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