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Tax Laws and Child Care

Obviously, the child-care issue has been intertwined with the question of welfare policy for decades. In the 1990s, this debate was complicated by even stronger proposals for forcing welfare recipients into the work force (see chapter 11). Advocates for strong work requirements at the federal and state governments were cautioned, once again, that welfare mothers could not join the work force in the absence of adequate child care. Soon this debate was altered by the ascendance of the “family values” ideology. Based on a fundamental premise that solutions to all social problems are best handled in traditional families and not by the government, this approach undercuts many efforts to fund social programs. For a time, the Republican Party majority in Congress was successful in making the family values perspective dominant, and many advocates for child care shifted

Child-and Dependent-Care Tax Credit

A tax credit of up to $3,000 for one dependent and $6,000 for two or more dependents is available to tax-paying working families with expenses for care of a child (under 13) or dependent (disabled person living at home). Up to 35 percent of the amount spent may be credited, depending on income, and it can’t be more than the total earnings of the spouse with the lower income. Payments to a grandparent, if not a dependent, may qualify.