POINT/COUNTERPOINT: I’m thankful that tax reform makes the dream possible
This Thanksgiving I am thankful to be a wife and stepmom. I am also thankful that after almost three decades, our nation is once again reforming our tax code to make life better for families like my own.
When I was the age of my stepson, my family was still new to the United States. We left the Caribbean in 1985 with just a few suitcases of clothes to start over in the land of opportunity.
Life was hard. Both of my parents worked more than 40 hours a week to make a comfortable life for me and my brother. As a construction worker and an entry-level accounting staffer, my parents earned less together than I made in my first job out of college. Yet, they saved to purchase our first car — a little red Toyota Corolla we affectionately called “the red car.” Then, they managed to set aside thousands of dollars for a down-payment on a home that would move us out of a violent Boston neighborhood.
Because of the Tax Reform Act of 1986, my high-school-educated parents and their school-age kids benefited from reforms like the expansion of the standard deduction and the earned income tax credit.
Despite the negative characterizations, the tax reform bill passed by the House and the bill under consideration in the Senate both include important provisions that will help families struggling to make ends meet or to save for their future.
Both raise the child tax credit — to $1,600 in the House bill and to $2,000 in the proposed Senate bill. The House also added a $300 tax credit for each non-child dependent in the household, which will help families taking care of grandparents or extended family members — something my family did for about a decade when I was growing up.
Both plans nearly double the standard deduction for individuals and for married couples to $12,000 and $24,000, respectively.
While the House bill consolidates the rates from seven to four, both bills will deliver tax cuts for lower- and middle-class Americans.
Consider these scenarios: A family of four earning a median income of $59,000 a year will get to keep $1,100 more of their hard-earned money. A single mom with a daughter working a $30,000 job will see her refund check increase $700, thanks to reforms under the House plan.
Three generations of family will gather at our home to celebrate Thanksgiving. Collectively, we are thankful to God that our parents pursued their dreams of leaving us a better future than if we remained in the Caribbean.
Now, as we forge ahead in pursuing our own American dreams, I hope our national leaders will play their role by reforming our tax code for the better.
Patrice Onwuka is a senior policy analyst at Independent Women’s Forum.