Trickle Down Devastation:
A Single Mom Responds to Trump's Tax Plan

Photo by Alison Stine for Equal Voice News

April 4, 2017 3:51 pm

ATHENS, Ohio – You’re not a single mother. You have a spouse or a partner. You don’t have kids, or if you do, you’re raising them in a two-parent, two-income household. I’m happy for you – and a little envious. I don’t have that life. I have a 5-year-old I’m raising alone in Appalachia.

Alison Stine
Alison Stine

The proposed tax plan announced by Donald Trump punishes people like me: single parents living with their children on low- to moderate-incomes. Trump’s plan rewards the top 1 percent, but forbids single parents from filing as head of household, a tax status currently open to unmarried parents who pay for more than half of all expenses (rent, bills, food).

Doing away with this status will reduce the amount single parents can deduct and require us to file at a higher tax rate. Under Trump’s proposal, 20 percent of all families with children will pay more in taxes, including more than half of the nation’s single parent families.

Why should you care? You’re fine.

Except you’re not. No matter how much you make, how many kids you have, and whether or not you are raising them alone, these changes affect you. We as a nation are only as strong as our weakest members.

Penalizing single parents and caregivers means targeting a population that already struggles to make ends meet, already works long hours, and already is stretched too thin. Kicking out a ladder’s bottom rungs means those at the top will fall, too.

Your children will be affected because the children of parents who will be hit by this tax plan are more likely to be affected. Those children might go hungry as families are forced to choose between medicine and food.

Photo by Alison Stine for Equal Voice News

Photo by Alison Stine for Equal Voice News

Hungry children tend to act out because they don’t feel well. They also tend to fall asleep in class.

Your child’s teacher is going to have to take time out of teaching to deal with the needs of children whose families are struggling.

Hungry adults tend not to do things well either, like drive or work their jobs. Traffic accidents could increase, along with factory mishaps. Look for people snapping at you in line because they’re physically struggling, or being clumsy or forgetful while serving you.

You’re going to see an influx of sick people. When money is tight, adults skimp on medications. Most of us, when pressed to decide between care for ourselves or for our children will choose our kids. I know I do.

I skip my own expensive allergy meds to buy those for my son, save my asthma inhalers for the absolute worst emergencies, and stretch daily contact lenses to use for weeks or more.

Working longer hours to try to make ends meet will mean exhausted people. Exhaustion and stress exacerbate existing medical conditions and contribute to new ones. Pain worsens under stress. Wounds take longer to heal. Colds and other illnesses take longer to recover from.

Many of us may lose our health insurance – another of Trump’s goals is to dismantle the Affordable Care Act – and as we lose access to primary care doctors, emergency rooms will become more crowded.

There will be more contagious people out in public, unable to afford the most basic care – or scared to miss a day of work to allow themselves to heal – so you might get sick more often, too.

I live in a poor place, which has certainly seen its share of tough times. A friend dumpster dived for food. Another burned cardboard for heat. But along with teaching me about poverty,

Appalachia has taught me solidarity and compassion. My town rallied to throw a young expectant mother with multiple illnesses a baby shower; to help buy a van for a man with disabilities; to help unemployed workers after a fire. This is a place where people have the least, yet give the most.

It’s easy to give at least a little, and doing so is essential to all of our survival. When one of us struggles, we all struggle. We all deal with trickle-down devastation.

The president’s tax plan is going to make the nation weak – not just single parents who, frankly, are being punished enough already. It is true that some choose to parent alone, but many of us were denied a choice.

Many single parents are dealing with a broken promise. Many of us come to single parenting through horrible circumstances: death, or abandonment, or trying to escape abuse, or to deal with the pain of infidelity. I wouldn’t wish single parenting on anyone. It’s exhausting, lonely, and nearly impossible to do absolutely everything a child needs by yourself.

Now, it looks like I’ll have to do it on even less. And you – even you – will pay the price for that, too.


Alison Stine, who earned her PhD, is a writer, visual artist and author, most recently of the novel, “Supervision.” She is a writing fellow for the Center for Community Change. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Nation, The Paris Review and Jezebel. Contact: All original and contracted Equal Voice News content – articles, graphics and videos – can be reproduced for free, as long as proper credit and a link to our homepage are included. For more information on housing, employment and other issues important to families, visit the Equal Voice National Family Platform.

2017 © Equal Voice for America’s Families Newspaper


2 Responses to "Trickle Down Devastation: A Single Mom Responds to Trump’s Tax Plan"

  1. gannon  April 28, 2017 at 7:08 am

    Head of household plus 1 child equals a deduction of $17,500.00. The new plan will change that to $15,000.00, but now you get to claim ALL of your child care expensed instead of just a portion of them. In the end it should be about the same $$. Also the standard deduction goes from $12k to $24k, double what you are getting now. I am married with 1 child and I guarantee you I pay A LOT more in taxes than you do. When you are married your tax bracket is increased, the deduction for each person is decreased and we don’t get to claim a head of household deduction, even if only 1 of us are working. We barely break even at tax time, while I’m sure you get most of what you put in back. My husband is a teacher in one of the poorest states in the US and we manage to make it work, without whinning over the whole mess. “In other words, the federal government would finally be giving people an economic incentive to work more and harder to make more money because they won’t be handing their excess earnings back to the welfare state.” (
    BTW: What do you have a PHD in?

  2. Ricki  April 9, 2017 at 8:24 am

    I would also like to see more consideration for single filers. Some of us pay the same mortgages as our married counterparts. It isn’t true that we spend half the amount of our married counterparts. The issue of losing Head of Household wouldn’t be as much of a problem is Single rates weren’t so high. And I don’t want to hear about society promoting marriage. Many singles are senior widows.


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