Women’s History Month is an opportunity to recognize the significant contributions women have made to society in the past, present and future. This month, women have another reason to celebrate: the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is making our economy stronger, and that’s helping women across America. By slashing tax rates, increasing the standard deduction, doubling the child tax credit and simplifying the tax code, our tax plan is benefiting women, from the hourly employee to the entrepreneur; whether single or married with children.
Since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law just three months ago, 4 million workers have received more than $4 billion in bonuses. Because businesses have record confidence in our economy, many are voluntarily developing ways to attract and retain talent — which, unlike top-down government mandates, will result in sustainable benefits as companies compete.
Some companies are boosting 401(k) plans, supporting women planning for retirement. Others are tripling tuition reimbursement programs, helping young women saddled with student debt. Disney is paying $50 million to assist hourly employees with tuition costs.
Other companies are implementing paid parental leave policies, and that’s a significant breakthrough for women since a quarter of new moms have to be back at work just 10 days after childbirth. Walmart is instituting one of the nation’s most generous parental leave policies: 10 weeks of maternity leave and six weeks of paternity at full pay for full-time hourly workers.
Sprouts, headquartered in Phoenix, is investing one-third of its savings from tax reform into increasing wages and expanding health care and maternity leave, to list another example.
It’s not just female employees who are benefitting from the tax cuts; so are female employers. Today, 9.4 million businesses in America are owned by women. Under our tax plan, these female-owned businesses can reinvest tax savings to create new jobs.
How? The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act relieves tax and compliance burdens that were crippling business growth and keeping our economy stagnant. It cuts tax rates across the board, allows businesses to immediately deduct the cost of equipment so they can grow and removes incentives for businesses to shift abroad.
Before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a woman owning her own small business was taxed at rates as high as 44.6 percent, and spent thousands of dollars complying with the tax code. Now, thanks to a simpler code, lower taxes and a doubled standard deduction, a single woman whose business makes $60,000 will only pay $3,760 in federal taxes, instead of $5,642.50. She’ll have more time and money for her growing business.
Finally, these tax cuts are helping the more than 70 percent of moms who work outside of family life. For families across the board in today’s economy, it’s more common for both parents to work or for women to be the breadwinners. Unfortunately, child care is one of the biggest expenses for families. In Arizona, infant care is as expensive as college tuition and child care for two is double the cost of rent. This is a major reason why many women can’t enter the workforce: 61 percent of non-working women said family responsibilities were the reason they weren’t working — but that they would if they had more flexibility or money.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act relieves this expensive burden by doubling the Child Tax Credit for each child under 17. The plan also doubles the standard deduction and lowers the tax rates. The overhaul also allows families to use 529 educational savings accounts to save for elementary, secondary and higher education, so that families can have an easier time planning for their children’s futures. Starting in 2018, a typical middle income family of four in Tucson would see a tax cut of $2,148. A single mom with two kids making $53,600 would now owe no federal income taxes — previously, she would have owed $2,060.
Our tax cuts are helping women build the lives they want by allowing them to keep more of what they earn and growing an economy that gives them more flexibility and benefits to strike the work-life balance they choose. That’s something to celebrate this month.
Rep. Martha McSally, a Republican, represents Congressional District 2 in Southern Arizona.