Singles vs. Parents: Who Pays the Heftier Tax Bill?

Singles vs. Parents: Who Pays the Heftier Tax Bill?

Kids cost an arm and a leg to raise—but they can apparently save you a bundle on your federal income taxes.

All other things being equal, single people without children pay much higher taxes than married couples with kids, according to calculations by the Tax Institute of H&R Block. Assuming that a single person and a dual-earner couple with two small children both made $100,000 last year, the single person would typically pay three to four times more in federal income taxes.


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In calculating the hypothetical tax scenarios, the Tax Institute found that singles consistently paid more than their married counterparts across different cities, despite varying state and local taxes rates. In Queens, N.Y., for instance, the single person’s bill came to $11,660 versus $3,076 for the married couple with kids. In Topeka, Kan., the single person would have paid $13,410, compared to the married couple’s bill of $4,066. And in Seattle, the tax bills came to $12,360 vs. $3,286.

Why the huge disparity? It’s mostly due to child-related tax breaks that the married couples with kids can claim, including the child tax credit, dependent exemption, and other breaks to cover child care and education costs. The tax gap shrinks if only one spouse works, because that couple would not be able to take child care tax benefits (both parents must work, or be looking for work, to be eligible).

So parents can thank their little ones for saving the family a little cash—until the college bills start arriving, that is.


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