Don’t be cruel — fix it, don’t kill it

Published 12:01 am Saturday, November 4, 2017

Much of the House GOP tax plan, like most legislation out of Washington, is difficult to understand.

Though it’s been lauded as tailored to benefit the middle class, it’s not clear that will happen based on the details I have seen. But I’m not a tax expert so I will stay out of that fight.

A piece of the plan, however, that I will weigh in on is one that appears to be the most illogical for a party that considers itself to be compassionate and caring.

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The plan will repeal the adoption tax credit, a tax benefit designed to make adoption easier so more vulnerable children are adopted.

The credit is capped at about $13,000 and goes a long way toward helping families with the often expensive adoption process.

So why would Republicans kill it?

Rep. Kevin Brady, who has two adopted sons, was the chief writer of the tax plan. He said the credit is not working as designed and pointed out that some families seeking to adopt can’t claim the credit because they don’t pay enough in taxes or don’t itemize their tax bill.

“This credit is not working,” Brady said in an interview with The Washington Post.

Fair enough. But if the credit isn’t working, the best approach is to fix it instead of killing it completely.

The tax credit as it exists now may not be perfect, but it acts as an incentive for adoption and without it fewer vulnerable children will end up in adoptive homes.

Jedd Medefind, president of the Christian Alliance for Orphans, said the tax credit can mean the difference between families being able to adopt or not. He expects that there will be fewer adoptions if the credit is eliminated, The Washington Post reported.

“If they want to promote family-friendly policies, who needs help more than a child without a family?” said Mary Boo, executive director of the North American Council on Adoptable Children.

“This will make it tougher to adopt. Period,” Schylar Baber, executive director of Voice for Adoption, said.

Russell Moore with the Southern Baptist Convention has adopted children. He said it is in the nation’s interest to see that vulnerable children are in families, not “exiled in a system.”

“The adoption tax credit is not just one more policy issue. Vulnerable children ought to be a priority for us all,” he wrote.

Republicans, a group I typically agree with on these kinds of issues, are choosing to make adoption more difficult, which hurts some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Why?

It’s clear the credit does much good without costing the government much at all. The government lost $355 million because of the credit in 2014. And while that sounds like a ton of money, it’s nothing really when the government runs a budget in the trillions. 

I am all for smaller government and most conservative tax policies, but passing a tax bill that makes adoption more difficult is not just irresponsible, it’s downright cruel.

Publisher Luke Horton can be reached at