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The Tax Foundation is the nation’s
leading independent tax policy
research organization. Since 1937,
our research, analysis, and experts
have informed smarter tax policy
at the federal, state, and local
levels. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit
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in the New Tax Code
• The tax code contains several provisions which vary based on family
composition and are designed for purposes such as offsetting the costs of
having children or encouraging lower-income individuals to join the labor
• Currently, family status affects at least six tax provisions: the child tax credit,
the child and dependent care tax credit and exclusion for employer-sponsored
child and dependent care benefits, the earned income tax credit, filing status,
the standard deduction, and tax rates and brackets.
• The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reformed three of the primary family provisions,
by consolidating them into two expanded provisions, which simplified some
parts of the individual income tax code.
• The remaining provisions are still in need of reform. Many of the credits have
different, and complex, qualification requirements, which leads to taxpayer
confusion and problems with administrability.
• Provisions that are related to work contain family status differentials,
providing greater work incentives to workers with children than to workers
without children, with no clear policy rationale.
• Other family provisions contribute to marriage penalties or bonuses, resulting
in different tax liability for couples than if they both were single.
• The nonneutral treatment of different taxpayers, differences in qualifying
requirements, and the overlap between some of the work and child benefits,
present an opportunity for reforms that would simplify the process for