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Reps. Porter, Pressley, and Beyer Introduce Bill to Strike Single Parent Penalty from Tax Code

Legislation would build on expanded child tax credit, give more help to single parent families

Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45) today introduced legislation to make it easier for families headed by single parents to get help from the expanded child tax credit. The Single Parent Penalty Elimination Act, which is co-led by Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Congressman Don Beyer (VA-08), would change the income threshold for Americans filing as heads of household—the status most commonly used by single parents—so that it is the same as those who are married filing jointly. 

“No child should receive less nutritious food or less secure housing just because their parent isn’t married,” said Porter, a single mom of three school-age kids. “There’s no discount for single parents at grocery stores, child care centers, or doctors’ offices, yet the child tax credit gives less help to single parent families. I’m proud to introduce legislation today that would eliminate this unfair penalty and give relief to kids in need, regardless of their parents’ marital status.”

The child tax credit was created to offset the costs of raising a child by putting more money in families’ pockets. Under current law, eligibility for the child tax credit begins to phase out at $150,000 annual income for married couples and $112,500 annual income for single parents. Porter’s legislation would raise the income threshold to $150,000, regardless of whether a taxpayer is filing jointly or as a head of household. 

“Nearly half of all households with children in the Massachusetts 7th are single-parent households, and with millions out of work due to COVID-19, our single parents need all the help they can get,” said Pressley. “My bill with Rep. Porter would fix our antiquated tax code to make it easier for single parents to access the critical relief they need to survive this crisis. This is a racial, gender, and economic justice issue.”

“The Child Tax Credit provides an invaluable lifeline to families across America, but single parents, whose jobs are hard enough already, oftentimes receive less of the credit than married couples,” said Beyer. “Our bill recognizes that single parents are just as deserving of the full credit as married couples, and would bring more fairness to the tax code.”

Fifty-three members of the House of Representatives joined as original cosponsors of the legislation, which is also endorsed by the Asset Funders Network, California Association of Food Banks, Center for Economic and Policy Research, Economic Security Project Action, Family Equality, Family Story, Finding Common Purpose, Golden State Opportunity, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, National Council of Jewish Women, Mom Congress, National Crittenton Foundation, National Partnership for Women and Families, National WIC Association, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, ParentsTogether Action, Universal Income Project, and 2020 Mom.

A one-pager on the single parent penalty can be found HERE. Porter authored an op-ed on the need to eliminate the single parent penalty, which can be read HERE.

A single mom of three school-aged kids, Congresswoman Porter has been a staunch advocate for families throughout her time in Congress. She recently reintroduced legislation to more than double the amount of pre-tax income families can set aside for dependent care. She has also been an outspoken advocate for women, especially single moms, who have been forced out of the workforce during the pandemic.