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Linda Qiu
By Linda Qiu November 6, 2016

Would 51% of single parents see taxes rise under Donald Trump's tax plan?

Campaigning in the final stretch of the presidential election, Hillary Clinton took a brief break from knocking Donald Trump’s character to hammer his tax plan.

"He's taking care of himself, he's taking care of his family, he's taking care of the super wealthy and corporations," Clinton said at a rally in Pittsburgh on Nov. 4, 2016, adding that under Trump, "51 percent of single parents would see their taxes go up."

Briefly, Trump’s tax plan would collapse the seven federal income tax brackets into three (12 percent, 25 percent and 33 percent). He would also raise the standard deduction (the amount everyone can deduct from taxable income) but repeal personal exemptions and head of household filing status.  

Tax analysts have found that Trump’s plan would deliver, on average, tax cuts across all income brackets. So how is it possible that single parents would pay more?

The Clinton campaign referred us to analysis of Trump’s tax plan from the Tax Policy Center, which is affiliated with the left-leaning Urban Institute.

According to the report, authored by New York University professor Lily Batchelder, about 20 percent of households and more than half of single parents would wind up paying more in federal taxes.


First, Trump’s proposal to increase the standard deduction wouldn’t be enough to offset the amount many single parents could have deducted with personal exemptions (which Trump would take away).

For example, a single mother with one child can take a $9,350 standard deduction and two $4,050 exemptions, one for herself and one for her child in 2017 under the current system — or $17,450 in exemptions in total. Under Trump’s plan, she would be able to take just a $15,000 standard deduction. The end result? That mother would have to pay income tax on an additional $2,450 under Trump’s plan.

Second, the head of household filing status currently applies to unmarried filers with dependents, and their standard deduction and tax rates are between those of married filers and single filers. Repealing this provision as Trump proposes would require single parents to file as individuals with higher tax rates.  

Third, Trump’s three brackets would increase taxes for many head of household filers. For example, the current lowest bracket is 10 percent, but Trump’s lowest bracket is 12 percent.

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"For example, in 2017 a single parent with one child who claims the standard deduction would face a 25 percent tax rate on adjusted gross income between $53,050 and $68,550, compared with just a 15 percent rate under current law," Roberton Williams, an analyst at the Tax Policy Center, wrote in Forbes.

Put it altogether, 51 percent of single parents or about 5.8 million households would see a tax increase under Trump’s plan, Batchelder calculated. As our colleagues at noted, "single parents tend to do worse under Trump’s plan than under current law."

For example, a single parent with an income of $75,000 and two school-age children would see his or her taxes increase by $2,440 or by $1,640 if the family had child care costs that could be deducted under Trump's plan, according to Batchelder. Similarly, a single parent making $50,000 and who had three children would face an increase of $1,188.

The Tax Foundation, a free market-oriented think tank, has not released similar analysis. But its director of federal projects, Kyle Pomerleau, found no faults with Batchelder’s report.

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Our ruling

Clinton said, under Trump's tax plan, "51 percent of single parents would see their taxes go up."

Trump’s proposal would simplify the federal tax code and provide tax cuts for many. But, analysts say, Trump’s plan would make changes that would affect some people negatively.

Trump’s proposal to eliminate the head of household filing status and personal exemptions would raise federal income taxes for many single parents.

We rate Clinton’s claim True.

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