The tax overhaul in the works has drawn controversy over possible changes to 401(k) plans and deductions for homeowners, but another, lower-profile topic has emerged as a sore point. The House plan unveiled last week would eliminate a one-time tax break for families that adopt children. The break can be a substantial one—it's $13,570 in 2017, which can take the sting out of adoption costs that can approach $40,000 if done through an agency, per the Hill. The issue has become a flash point on the right because conservatives equate the credit with supporting pro-life, pro-family values. "Being pro-life means being pro-adoption," tweeted GOP Sen. Ben Sasse. "Congress must remember this as we work through the details of tax reform." Now the Washington Post highlights a different wrinkle: The House's top tax writer has two adopted sons.
Rep. Kevin Brady, chair of the House Ways and Means panel, has called his adoptive kids the "biggest blessing," but he defends the credit's elimination. It's "not working," he tells the Post, saying that some families can't claim it because they don't pay enough in taxes or don't itemize. A piece at Vox notes that the credit is indeed "nonrefundable," meaning that parents who don't make enough to owe federal taxes aren't eligible. Those in the middle or upper-middle class, making between $100,000 and $200,000, claim the credit the most. Brady argues that tax overhaul will help all families in a more general sense by, say, increasing the child tax credit. Still, expect the issue to remain contentious. Congress "may end up funding Planned Parenthood while abolishing the adoption tax credit," writes David French in the conservative National Review. "That’s intolerable."