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Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Another Single Dad Who Can't Claim Kid (And Again the IRS Can't Read the EITC Tables)

Christopher Christie can not claim his daughter as a dependant because his testimony does not support finding that he provided more than half her financial support, he cannot claim Head of Household filing status because his testimony does not support finding that he maintained a household, and he cannot claim his daughter as a qualifying child for EITC because she is 20 years old. However, he is entitled to EITC for persons without a qualifying child.

This case, and that of Lakim Love Allah from a couple of weeks ago, illustrate the issues discussed recently in A Taxing Blog regarding the IRS's proposed requirements for proof of entitlement to EITC. I was glad to see Victor's discussion today regarding the possible unconstitutionality of the policy, which is something I had been wondering about since reading his last post. I hesitate to offer my thoughts on the issue, because I would really like to argue this case in court (against the IRS), but despite my efforts, I will probably not be in that position, so I should point out that I think the IRS has a slightly better position than he suggests. First, since the sex discrimination is intended to reduce significantly the number of poor people affected by the new substantiation requirements, I think some liberal judges and Justices could be persuaded that "it serves important governmental objectives and the discriminatory means employed are substantially related to the achievement of those objectives". Second, Victor states, "...while there may be some biological urges that make it somewhat more likely for children to live with their mothers than their fathers (and I'm not even sure about that), it is clear to me that the presumption that children live with their mothers is primarily a social construction, not a predetermined biological fact." If the IRS lawyers bring up the incredible health benefits to both mother and child from breast-feeding through toddlerhood, it will be a tough argument for a liberal tax attorney (again, meaning me, in my fantasies), to rebut as a "social construction".

I do ultimately think the policy is unconstitutional, but it is a close call and will take a SCOTUS decision, or a bunch of circuit court decisions, to finally declare it so, which means poor single dads are stuck with it for a while. And if the cases of Christie and Allah are a guide, the IRS will be using it deny these guys even the EITC they are entitled to.

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