Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Kansas raises the parent tax

Under current American law, child support is essentially a tax. That is, the govt orders the payment based on a percentage of income, with no requirement that the money be spent on the kids.

Most taxes require a vote of elected representatives, or of the people. Any tax increase is controversial and requires justification.

But Kansas raises child support, more accurately called a parent tax, by some lawyers and judges who attend a meeting and decide what they think is fair!

This sounds like what a dictatorship might do, not the USA.

A Kansas TV station reports:
For those of you who pay child support, start planning to pay more.

Every four years, federal law requires the state to review their child support guidelines.

In Kansas last year, more than $35 million was paid in child support by both dads and moms, but why?

“Children in Kansas are our most important asset so we want to make sure they’re protected financially,” said Larry Rute, Attorney at Law

Rute is part of a 14 member committee which says that the current payment schedule isn’t enough to do that.

They want to increase child support payments by an average of 3.5 percent across all income groups statewide. ...

“If you look at the guidelines and you feel that for any reason they’re unfair to you, then let us know and tell us why,” Rute said. “I promise you we will look at it.”

After the public comment is reviewed, the Kansas Supreme Court will have the final say on this possible change.

If the court adopts the proposal, then the increase in payments might start as soon as January 1, 2016.
So raising the parent tax is a way of protecting children? This is sick.

Update: A reader asks why this is a tax, and division of community property is not.

In community property states, the spouses are agreeing to split their incomes for the duration of the marriage. The division of property at divorce time is just each spouse claiming what he or she already owns.

With child support, there is no such agreement and no such ownership. It is imposed after the marriage, or if there was no marriage. No agreement between the parents comes into place. It is a tax on future earnings, or future judge-imputed earnings. It is imposed at the judge's discretion, and collected like a tax.

Amd yes, this Kansas parent tax is already too high. See this book chapter of Real World Divorce for details.


Anonymous said...

If you and your spouse divorce and your respective retirement accounts are divided, is that a tax? If one keeps the house and has to make a payment to the other to buy them out, is that a tax? Don't agree with the concept of community property? Then don't get married and divorce in a community property state.

When you say, "the govt orders the payment based on a percentage of income", you make it sound like the guideline is a flat tax, but it's more of a sliding scale.

How can you know whether increasing child support payments by 3.5% is good or bad without studying child support amounts in Kansas?

Ken said...

Pretty standard fare, I can assure you. These people don't give one rat's ass about "the children", it is essentially a mommy tax. When you do something, it is best to find a justification to give yourself a higher moral ground, people try to do it all the time. Using "the children" is perfect, because who could possibly be against children?

Now do they care as much about "the children" if dad is living in a one bedroom hovel without enough space or money to properly care for them during their time with him? Suddenly "the children" are not such a concern. It's only for a few days after all, they will see to that.

These people who raise these rates have no accountability, they are not elected on the basis of what they do in regards to this issue. It's kind of a double edged sword though, since they can raise the rates as they see fit, but if they were elected for this purpose, I could see them actually running commercials trying to outdo each other as to how much they want to protect "the children". Men would not lift a finger to stop it.

I remember speaking with an attorney as he was telling me that the rates were going up in the middle of one of the most challenging Arizona economies in my memory. I asked him how that was possible, since many people, including myself, had not received significant increases in pay in some time in an already wage stagnant state. He explained that it was a panel of judges who get automatic raises on a pay cycle of some sort. They are completely isolated from the economy, but truly I doubt it would make a difference anyway.

My other favorite feature of child support is the lack of acountability you mentioned. Spend it on the children? Well, if you want to. They just assume that any spending by the custodial "parent" is automatically for the benefit of the child. I know of a situation when a good portion of that money went to a Las Vegas vacation. The kids didn't go by the way. Perhaps that was to their benefit.

When the government gives people money, there are restrictions. Welfare? EBT cards? Well you can only buy certain items, and there is a special card so that it can be tracked. Mommy tax money? No accountability. Spend it as you choose. Oh and by the way, you don't pay taxes on it, it's FREE! (Most people I encounter incorrectly believe that child support is tax deductable, which is incorrect. Alimony is, which is why in more states you are seeing alimony rolled back or eliminated, with a compensatory hike in child support. Its a win-win for all involved except the person paying it.) When is the last time you or I received a significant amount of money that the government wasn't interested in taking a share of? It's politics, it's ugly, and there is absolutely no way to get it changed. Despite the fact that most people who don't have a horse in this race will rightly disagree with how the system is run, it's not changing, because "the children" of course.

It's a transfer of wealth, mostly from men to women, just as are most taxes. But in this one's case it has the high moral ground. Think of those children.

HeligKo said...

Anonymous can take a flying leap. No state is fair in the administration of CS. The mere fact that the payer bears all the responsibility under the threat of penalties reserved for our worst criminals (and drug users) is enough to argue that. The payer is indentured to the payee until the children are no longer legally required to be dependents. If the child being considered has special needs, that could be forever. As for the specific question of KS, they have some of the highest CS rates in the country. I have studied KS tables and most of the others.

Anonymous said...

What a load. So they are going to increase what I pay for my kids to take care of a government shortfall but it is "for the kids"?

I have shared custody and keep the kids 50% of the time, pay all insurance premiums, and still give over $800 per month for Direct Expenses and that isn't enough?

HeligKo said...

I just read the strikeout version of the proposal, and it does clean up some language issues, and makes things less confusing on items like extra-curricular activities and sports. It doesn't change that its one of the highest rates in the nation. Its also a state that has a presumption in language in a number of areas revolving around custody, but hasn't offered any legislation with any teeth. It is still presumed that if one parent doesn't want shared custody, then it can't work.