Friday, 13 April 2012

How taxing

I finally calculated my income tax return.  OK, I didn’t calculate it myself.  Instead, I either lazily or efficiently chose an on-line tax preparation system over the old-fashioned pencil and workbook method.  Although I wonder if I had done it by hand myself, would it have made more sense to me?  In the end, I am sceptically thrilled at the result.  But I’m torn between wishing that I had submitted it sooner, and wondering if there has been a mistake.
This is the first income tax return that I’ve filed after working (almost) a full year with three kids in child care, and apparently, having three kids in child care bodes well for our income tax calculations.  It seems that the tax credit for child care expenses is primarily responsible for the nicely sized income tax refund we will be receiving.  (I knew there were added benefits to paying someone to look after our kids!)
I don't want to seem unappreciative of our forthcoming income tax refund, but I am wondering a little at the logic of it all...  The thing is, if the child care tax credit is what is primarily responsible for our tax refund, then the whole system seems a little backwards to me.
Instead of making us pay it all out, and then crediting some of it back to us in the end, why can’t the government make child care more affordable and accessible in the first place?
Of course, there's also the federal government’s Universal Child Care Benefit - $100 each month, per child under 6, to support us in our child care choices.  While it's nice to receive the extra money, it certainly doesn't go far in covering child care costs.  Plus, it’s considered taxable income!

As it is, the tax credit for child care expenses capped at $21,000.  We are using one of the most economical options for child care, and even still, it costs us quite a bit more than $21,000 a year.  And the cap doesn't seem to vary according to the number of kids being cared for; the $21,000 limit would apply to a family with one child and to a family with more.
As it is, our refund is not going to be spent in any way that would meaningfully support the economy.  Instead, it’s being used to pay down some of the debt that we incurred by paying for child care in the first place.  Does this make any sense to anyone else?

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