Proposed tax on child support targets vulnerable groups

The Oklahoma state budget shortfall is well documented and has been reported on by extensively by most state media, including the Collegian.
When state revenue is crippled like the 2016 income tax cut crippled our revenue, it can’t be any wonder that the state is looking for even the smallest of ways to make up that money.
The newest effort is a fee of up to $10 out of a child support check. This measure seems so obscure that, at first, all it inspires is confusion. What could $10 per child support check really do for the state? Surely we have better ideas than this?
The new fee could bring in up to $1,000,000 a month to the Department of Human Services’ failing budget. And DHS is certainly something that deserves to be funded. They facilitate adoption, foster care and child protective services for Oklahoma’s most vulnerable children. They provide legal assistance to families. They help low income parents find affordable child care. DHS is a hard-working department that is perpetually underfunded.
Supplementing that budget shortage with fees on the backs of single parents, however, undermines the whole purpose of the DHS.
By attaching a fee to child support checks, we essentially place an additional tax onto single parents who are simply trying to provide for their children.
It’s a tax of the worst type: a regressive sin tax that targets minority groups, the poor and the young, all of whom tend to be single parents who are paying or receiving child support more than white middle class Oklahomans.
In Oklahoma, 34 percent of children are in single parent homes. To target their parents with fees such as this because of legislative failure to satisfactorily fund the DHS is to target a third of Oklahoman children simply for being born.
If readers are getting tired of seeing Oklahoma’s new and exciting ways of failing the budget, then believe me, I am tired of writing about it. But the importance of these backdoor, seemingly simple or even innovative revenue building measures cannot be stressed enough.
County auctions put guns in an unregistered populace. Car taxes are regressive and slow the rate of social and economic mobility. Tobacco taxes are unconstitutionally passed. And child support fees put an undue penalty onto the backs of single parents whose only crime was not staying married to their partner.
When budgets are slashed like this, we have to see that this stone ripples to every part of society. It isn’t just education that suffers. We are all liable to ridiculous, minute and incredibly targeted measures like this one. The answer, at least for now, is deceptively simple. Restore the old income tax and then open up the dialogue for what comes next.

Post Author: Amanda Amos