Congressman Brad Sherman

Representing the 30th District of CALIFORNIA

Trump Tax Plan: An Attack on Children and Families with Disabilities


Oct 25, 2017

I am writing not as a Congressman or tax expert, but as the proud father of a wonderful child with special needs.  No group will be hurt more by the Trump tax plan than families with children with disabilities.

The plan cuts federal revenues by between $150 and $200 billion per year.  Deficit hawks will demand that a substantial portion of these revenue cuts be matched by cuts to federal spending.  This cut will mean reductions in the more than $13 billion[1] that the federal government dedicates to implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the roughly $293 million[2] that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) spends on research to prevent and treat Autism and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Second, the plan eliminates the deduction for out-of-pocket medical expenses.  Parents of children with disabilities know that health insurance pays only a portion of what is needed for behavioral therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, developmental pediatricians, neuropsychiatric examinations and other services.  Medical insurance pays nothing toward “experimental” treatments or for private schools designed to meet the needs of those with severe disabilities.  Under current law, special schools for those with physical or mental handicaps constitute deductible medical expenses.

Each parent is entitled to a $4,050 personal exemption for each dependent child, and often such dependent status can continue well into adulthood.  The Trump tax plan eliminates the exemption for dependents.  The tax plan does contain vague language about increasing the child tax credit to compensate parents who are losing the personal exemption.  But this credit is limited to children 16 years old and younger.  So, parents supporting children in their teenage years and older (and some children with disabilities will need parental support for a lifetime) lose the exemption and get no tax credit.

But perhaps parents with children with disabilities should support the Trump tax program.  While it will tremendously increase their taxes, they can have solace in knowing that the plan will reduce taxes for the Trump family by over a billion dollars in estate taxes and tens of millions in income taxes.

Congressman Brad Sherman (CA) has served in Congress for twenty years, is a tax attorney, CPA, and certified tax law specialist.  He headed the nation’s second-largest tax agency for five years.  He is the proud father of a child with special needs.