This week, House Republicans finally released their long-awaited tax reform bill. In a move that should shock no one, they’re, touting it as a huge success for tax cuts. Critics, also unsurprisingly, are pointing out that it seems to largely benefit wealthy Americans and larger corporations, leaving low- and middle-income Americans, Americans with disabilities, and Americans with dependents in the dust.
But one other element of the package that’s worth talking about is the impact the proposed policies would have on women. And, whether it’s the tax implications for childcare and student loans or for costly medical bills and adoption-related expenses, the bottom line is not good.
So how — and how badly — are Republicans specifically screwing over women? Let’s look at some of the most prominent examples from this bill:
Proposed Change: Repeal the employer-provided childcare credit.
What It Does: Ivanka Trump has been sashaying around the Capitol trying to increase the child tax credit. The bill includes an uptick but doesn’t expand the amount as much as the eldest Trump daughter hoped for. Current law stipulates that individuals with children under the age of 17 can receive a $1,000 tax credit per child. The new law increases that amount to $1,600 per child (not the $2,000-plus Ivanka Trump campaigned for) and adds in a $300 tax credit for non-child dependents. However, there seems to be a trade-off: The bill also gets rid of the employer-provided child care credit, which incentivizes businesses to help provide childcare in exchange for tax credits.
Who It Screws Over: Low-income women and working women
How It Screws Them Over: Finding suitable childcare is a huge burden on parents across the nation. Given the fact that women are often the ones who take off work or quit their jobs to take care of their kids, a law that would give employers less reason to help with childcare can put more of the onus on parents to find other (typically pricier) alternatives.
Proposed Change: Reform the student loan interest deduction and create a private college endowment tax.
What It Does: Under current law, people with student loans can file for an interest deduction that allows them to deduct up to $2,500 in interest paid towards certain students loans. Under the GOP bill, that deduction would only apply in cases of death or “total and permanent disability.” Given that over 44 million Americans are paying off student debt and three out of 10 of those people file this deduction, it’s a huge loss. And while the private college endowment tax might seem to affect universities themselves more than students, it’s a trickle-down issue: Money from endowments is used to fund financial aid and other student-centric costs, pay for faculty, staff, and research, and build and maintain college properties. If there’s a tax, that could shift financial priorities.
Who It Screws Over: Younger women, low-income women, and women with disabilities
How It Screws Them Over: While student debt often plagues people decades after school, young people just out of school with less income as well as low-income women are most affected by this provision. Additionally, there isn’t word on what “total and permanent disability” means, so for women who don’t qualify for that but still may not be able to work in a full-time, part-time, or any capacity to pay off loans, the reform could be devastating.
Proposed change: Add a stipulation that gives an “unborn child” the ability to be a “designated beneficiary” for a college savings account.
What It Does: The stipulation allows parents who are expecting a child to put away money in a tax-advantaged college savings plan called a 529, where the money isn’t federally taxed and may be exempt from state taxes as well.
Who It Screws Over: Pro-choice women and allies.
How It Screws Them Over: This credit doesn’t directly screw over women through taxes the same way other changes do, but pro-choice supporters point out that it takes the debate over when life “begins” into the tax realm and could have big legal implications in the future.
Proposed change: Repeal a medical expenses deduction and slash a rare disease incentive for businesses.
What It Does: Repeal a provision that would allow seniors and/or people with large medical expenses to write off those expenses if the individual spends more than 10% of their total income on out-of-pocket medical bills. It also reduces a tax incentive for pharmaceutical companies to find treatments for rarer diseases by 50%.
Who It Screws Over: Women with disabilities and elderly women
How It Screws Them Over: Anyone who requires long-term or expensive care would be on the hook for those bills, and the bill would disproportionately affect low- and middle-income households. One example is the survivors of the Las Vegas shooting, many of whom have astronomical medical costs and would receive no deductions if this bill were to go through.
Proposed change: Eliminate the adoption tax credit.
What It Does: Currently, individuals can receive a $13,570 tax credit for adopting a child through international, private, or foster care adoptions, and unused amounts of the credit can be carried over for five years. If the child doesn’t have special needs, the credit can only be used to cover adoption expenses. The tax credit is phased out for people with an income between $203,540 and $243,540. This entire system is gone if the Republican tax bill becomes law, even for families adopting children with special needs.
Who It Screws Over: Women with adopted children and children awaiting adoption
How It Screws Them Over: Not everyone who adopts comes from wealthy backgrounds, and by making it more expensive for families, experts worry that fewer people will go through the adoption process due to the sheer cost. There are other financial constraints for families looking to adopt children with special needs who’ll require more attention. Additionally, considering that the Republican Party constantly says that pregnant women who can’t afford to take care of a child should “just put it up for adoption” instead of getting an abortion, they’re making it financially harder for people to actually adopt those children.
Obviously, House Republicans still have to make changes to the bill and vote on it, and Republicans in the Senate have to officially present their own version of the bill. But if it wasn’t clear before, it is now: Republicans are taking a swing at more than just tax brackets here.
They’re turning tax reform into a referendum on women’s reproductive rights, their ability to work outside the home, and their healthcare rights. Can I get a big HELL NO?
Lily Herman is a contributing editor at Refinery29. Follow her on Twitter. The views expressed are her own.