Category archives: Family

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.

Why We Can’t Wait: A Call for MLK-like Leadership

by Patrina Mosley

January 16, 2017

I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the “do nothingism” of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist…if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black nationalist ideologies—a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare.”

- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail (1963), Why We Can’t Wait

These are powerful and prophetic words from the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., words that should be heeded today; for we can no longer wait to wake up from this racial nightmare that we are now in where black liberation ideologies are being foisted on the minds of young Americans. A teacher’s organization is encouraging teachers to provide Black Lives Matter (BLM) curriculum in the classroom one day every week, along with wearing BLM apparel. One teacher who has gotten on board with this agenda says “Black Lives Matter functions with 13 principles that I think are good and healthy for kids to learn about.” Considering what the Black Lives Matter movement has publically stated, this is a frightening prospect. Instead, children should be learning about the inspiring leadership of Dr. King, whose philosophy and principles we have all benefited from today. BLM is the very “black nationalist” ideology he warned would try to fill the void for truth if left vacant.

The Black Lives Matter movement states that they are “a chapter-based national organization working for the validity of Black life and “to (re)build the Black liberation movement” (emphasis added). What does that mean? To answer that we need to look at who the Black Liberation movement was. The Black Liberation movement, more commonly known as the Black Liberation Army (BLA), was a splinter group developed after the Black Panther Party dissolved. Their four badges of honor were anti-capitalism, anti-racism, anti-sexism, and anti-imperialism. Secondly, they proclaimed “That we must of necessity strive for the abolishment of these systems and for the institution of Socialistic relationships in which Black people have total and absolute control over their own destiny as a people (emphasis added). This is essentially a description of black anarchy. Third, “in order to abolish our systems of oppression, we must utilize the science of class struggle, develop this science as it relates to our unique national condition” (emphasis added). In other words, perfect the science of profiting at being a victim of society. The Black Liberation Army was reported to be involved in numerous police shootings and murders throughout the 1970’s.

Black Lives Matter also emphasizes the same social and economic struggles as the Black Liberation movement once did, calling its members to “live Black and buy Black” to create wealth only in the black community. Black Lives Matter has also extended the Black Liberation Army’s interest in being “anti-sexism” by affirming “the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, Black-undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all Black lives along the gender spectrum. It centers those that have been marginalized within Black liberation movements. It is a tactic to (re)build the Black liberation movement” (emphasis added).

One of their core principles of being Queer Affirming states, “We are committed to fostering a queer-affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking or, rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual unless s/he or they disclose otherwise” (emphasis added). Sadly, the movement seems to be against the family model that is the foundation of society.

BLM also seems to be wholeheartedly committed to what they call “disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another…” A kind of America where innumerable government community programs are substituted for moral values taught by a mom and dad, perhaps?

The guiding principles of this movement take the African-American community in a downward spiral of black anarchy that erases the family and casts no vision for a sustainable future. These principles are neither good nor healthy and are vastly different from the successful principles of Dr. King.

The most successful model for social change we can draw from is itself the civil rights movement of the sixties, led by the late Dr. King. He was able to articulate what the real problems were and to cast a unifying vision for all Americans to move forward. Dr. King also called the collection of his brave volunteers an army, but “an army whose allegiance was to God … it was an army that would sing but not slay … no arsenal except its faith, no currency but its conscience.”

Dr. King took universal Christian principles that inherently speak to every human conscience and used them to make a crisis of conscience to promote action. He made sure the world televised his non-violent marches for the enforcement of equal rights, while dogs and water hoses were unleashed on their bodies, knocking them to ground only to be beaten down more with clubs and fists. The world saw the participants of these non-violent marches singing praises to God and stopping together to sink to their knees on the pavement to pray.

Dr. King led the fight for civil rights by calling for action through policy, not burning down buildings. After the 1956 Supreme Court ruling that overturned Alabama’s bus segregation laws, King co-founded the Christian Leadership Conference throughout the South which became the leading organizer for action in the civil rights movement. after many arrests, non-violent marches, sit-in’s and appeals, his leadership paved the way for the passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and a Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

What an astonishing difference King’s efforts have made. His movement has largely accomplished its goals, and we are alive to see it in beautiful ways today, from the first black president, to multi-ethnic families and churches, to endearing friendships that would have never taken place had segregation existed today. Why are we enjoying the success of the MLK movement today and not the BLA? I believe the answer is that any social movement not based on Christian principles cannot be sustained and will fail. Christianity operates in truth and is a benefit to all people, no matter one’s color, gender, or culture.

Dr. King cast this vision, stating:

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.”

We must be the voice of truth and fill the void. We cannot afford to wait, hoping things will just get better. Our destination should be what it was always meant to be, “to sit at the table of brotherhood.”

For this was God’s eternal and mysterious plan since the beginning of mankind according to Ephesians 3, where the apostle Paul explains God’s advanced plan to make one unified body out of diversity, which displays His wisdom. Any plan that inherently goes against this will not succeed and cannot be blessed by God. We should seek out policies of righteousness and justice just as Dr. King so diligently fought for. Today we honor him and his contributions to all Americans, and pray that leaders like him will take up the mantle to be the alternative and distinct Christian voice for truth and justice. 

A Vote for Hillary Clinton is a Vote for Abortion

by Arina Grossu

August 9, 2016

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Blogger Rachel Held Evans is disingenuous when she states that you can vote for Hillary Clinton and still be “pro-life.” This is simply not true. While we don’t know exactly what we’re getting with Donald Trump, we surely know what we’re getting with Hillary Clinton. It should not only raise red flags but also sound loud sirens that both Planned Parenthood and NARAL are heavily endorsing Clinton. Back in January Planned Parenthood announced that it was endorsing Clinton and dropping at least $20 million this election cycle, saying:

We’re proud to endorse Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. No other candidate in our nation’s history has demonstrated such a strong commitment to women or such a clear record on behalf of women’s health and rights.”

Planned Parenthood has shown time and time again that its interests as an organization are primarily financial. The abortion industry makes a huge profit from selling abortions and baby body parts, while receiving over $500 million in taxpayer funding annually. Planned Parenthood and Hillary Clinton are two peas in a pod.

The Democratic platform itself lines right up with Clinton in codifying her progressively aggressive abortion stance: both have now embraced repealing the Hyde Amendment and forcing taxpayer dollars to fund abortions. The Republican platform, on the other hand, is pro-life, solid, and conservative. There is a night and day difference between these two.

Held Evans also claims that outlawing abortion won’t necessarily reduce abortions. That’s incorrect, based on inflated and ideologically-driven data provided by the abortion lobby. Further, studies have shown that access to contraceptives may actually increase teen pregnancy. Abstinence education, on the other hand, actually works. More abstinence means fewer unplanned pregnancies and fewer abortions.

Being pro-life is being pro-women and their children, before birth and after. You can’t be pro-life if you support the intentional killing of innocent human life, in the womb or outside it. Voting for someone who does support the intentional killing of vulnerable, unborn humans is as anti-life as it gets. Hillary’s words speak for themselves on where she stands on abortion: “I believe we need to protect access to safe and legal abortion, not just in principle, but in practice.”

In a democratic society we have the unique privilege of voting in accordance with our beliefs and values. By supporting pro-abortion candidates, we not only compromise our values, but also support the killing of unborn baby humans.

Sure, there are other values that are pro-human dignity that we should want in our candidates. But let’s keep in mind that the most fundamental of these rights is the right to life. We cannot exercise other rights without first being able to exercise our right to life and to ensure that every single person’s right to life is protected and defended, not only by our Congress and our laws, but by our next president. A vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote for abortion. If she is elected president, she is going to do everything in her power to push the most radical pro-abortion agenda that the U.S. has ever seen, most notably by her nomination of pro-abortion Supreme Court justices and support for Planned Parenthood and the abortion lobby’s destructive agendas. The lives of millions of unborn babies are at stake. Don’t be duped.

For more reactions to her inflammatory blog post, see these commentaries at the Federalist and National Review.

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Record High 245 Members of Congress Score 100 percent on FRC Action's New Scorecard
by FRC Action (Jan. 30, 2018)

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 ...

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