District 20 News: Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit greatly expanded
District 20: State Rep. Kinkead
A new year has dawned, and along with it comes the start of a new tax season. With many folks now beginning the process of filing their taxes, I want to spread the word about a new tax credit available for working families that my Democratic colleagues and I fought hard for in the 2023-24 state budget negotiations.
This year, the state’s Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit is more than triple what it was last year. The previous one-child credit of $180 is up to as much as $1,050, and the previous two-or-more children credit of $360 is up to as much as $2,100. This is huge news for parents and caregivers throughout the state! This isn’t just for child care. If you’re paying for care of someone who’s elderly or living with a disability, you could also qualify for the tax credit. It’s estimated that more than 220,000 Pennsylvania families qualify for these tax credits, and I encourage everyone eligible to take advantage of them when filing your state taxes. If you qualify for the federal Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, you also qualify for the state credit. And if you qualify, you should receive the money a few weeks after filing your 2023 tax return.
Every parent knows the cost of child care is a huge financial burden on families. The average cost of quality child care is roughly $12,000 a year for families in the Commonwealth. Finding quality care is hard enough, but how are working parents expected to afford spending an extra $1,000 every month? It’s clear that the high cost of child care is impacting families in a major way — I see the effects in our community every day. I also see folks struggling to afford care for their own parents or family members with disabilities. I understand that the current economic reality feels impossible to navigate for working people who are balancing jobs, bills and providing care for their kids or elderly loved ones. It’s why I fought to secure this historic tax credit increase that will put more money back in the hands of Pennsylvania families.
While the new tax credit will certainly help a lot of Pennsylvanians, it doesn’t address the root causes of how our child care model came to be this inaccessible in the first place. Low wages paid to care staff is causing many professionals to leave the industry, forcing care facilities to close and further limiting care options for families. Currently in Pennsylvania, it’s estimated there are over 38,000 children on child care waiting lists, almost 4,000 open staff positions, and 1,600 closed classrooms because of the staffing crisis.
Given this reality, it is now apparent that there are not enough options for quality care in Pennsylvania — we must expand access to child care through more than tax credits. Providing an accessible, affordable, high-quality early care and education system is good for children, good for parents and other caregivers, good for businesses, and in turn, good for the economy and our society as a whole. Kids get a head start on a lifetime of learning. Parents get peace of mind. Businesses can hire and retain workers. In many ways, our future depends on people having access to good quality childcare they can afford.
To help address the child care crisis we are facing, my colleague Rep. Liz Hanbidge has introduced H.B. 975, legislation that would create a “public private partnership,” encouraging employers to help workers cover the costs of child care. This bill is based on similar legislation that has succeeded in other states and has broad support from the business community. I proudly support this bill and I’ll continue working toward policies that create greater access to child care, improve care quality, and pay care workers fairly for the work they do and the credentials they must have.
If you know an individual or family struggling to get by, there are many resources available from the state they may be eligible for. Contact my office any time to see how the state can help you, your family, or your friends. Just email RepKinkead@pahouse.net or call my district office at (412) 321-5523. My dedicated staff and I would love to help you however possible.