Lawmakers abandon proposal to nix adoption tax credit

(Reuters/Aaron P. Bernstein)Tax documents are seen prior to a House Ways and Means Committee markup of the Republican Tax Reform legislation on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 9, 2017.

Republican lawmakers have abandoned plans to repeal the adoption tax credit following the outcry from numerous conservative and pro-life groups.

The proposed tax reform legislation unveiled by Republican lawmakers last week had included a provision to eliminate the adoption tax credit, which reduces the tax bill for adoptive families and allows them to claim $13,750 in adoption expenses.

However, the proposal had drawn criticism from pro-life advocates and Christian leaders, prompting the lawmakers to release an amendment to save the tax credit for adoptive families.

On Thursday, the House Ways and Means Committee voted 24–16 to preserve the tax credit, much to the relief of adoption advocates such as Southern Baptist spokesman and adoptive dad Russell Moore.

"This is not just some other policy, but a lifeline to children in need and to families trying to welcome them into their homes," Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), told Christianity Today.

"It is in the national interest to see to it that vulnerable children are protected, not exiled in a system. I'm glad to see that interest upheld rather than torpedoed in the Senate's proposal," he added.

Rep. Trent Franks, co-chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, said that he was "deeply grateful" that his fellow Republican lawmakers had decided to preserve the adoption tax credit.

"The Republican Party has been and always will be the party of life. The adoption tax credit has enormous symbolic, practical, and humanitarian meaning and purpose," he said.

Adoption advocates have argued that supporting the adoption tax credit can be considered fiscally conservative, as some studies have indicated that the government saves between $65,000 and $127,000 for each child who is adopted rather than placed in long-term foster care.

Other studies have found that adopted children have a better chance of succeeding as adults compared to foster care children.

U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-New Jersey), who first introduced the adoption credit in 1990, stressed the importance of keeping the credit, noting that 74,000 people benefited from it last year alone. He contended that the adoption credit is aimed at making adoption more practical for the average family.

"It is targeted to people who might find it very hard without the credit to put together the economic piece to go ahead with their plans to adopt a child. We need to encourage adoption, it is a loving option to get kids in homes," he added.

On Thursday, Senate Republicans released their version of the tax proposal which included the adoption tax credit. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who sits on the Finance Committee, noted that the overall framework of the two bills will be very similar, but there are some differences.

According to CBN News, the Senate's version of the tax bill could potentially delay the lowering of the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent to ease the impact of the national deficit.

The House and Senate tax bills will have to be first reconciled before they can advance to the White House for President Donald Trump's signature.

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