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NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission.  All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.  

January 20, 2014 by Robert Franklin, Esq.

My previous post was about Ireland’s astonishing discrimination against unmarried fathers. That’s been the law for decades, and, despite the fact that there’s noise about changing the law on the rights of single dads, it looks like things will only get worse. That’s because single fathers now have to go to court to secure their parental rights (unless Mom agrees). The proposed bill would impose yet another level of litigation on them. As things stand now, a mother can oppose a single father’s gaining his parental rights on the basis that he’s unfit. Under the new law, if it’s passed, she could also do so on the basis that the two had not cohabited prior to the birth of the child. Any way you slice it, it’s a double whammy for single fathers.

Since we’re in Ireland, I might as well mention the fact that the government has passed an amendment to the tax laws that further discriminates against fathers. It not only discriminates against fathers, it also discourages shared parenting, yet another double whammy. Read about it here (The Journal, 1/18/14)

It seems that, up until last October, if Mom and Dad had split up, each was entitled to receive a tax credit due to their child care obligations. But the government changed that arrangement to explicitly favor primary custodial parents, i.e. mothers. Indeed, the anti-father tone of the legislation is so blatant that the bureaucrats enforcing the new law simply assume that fathers aren’t entitled to the tax credit because their fathers. That’s not true, but, primary custody is so overwhelmingly given to mothers, it might as well be.

The government altered the child tax credit so that only the primary carer can now receive it. That means mothers get the credit and fathers don’t. It also means that the government, via the tax credit, explicitly rejects the notion of equal parenting. That creates a “hierarchy of parenting,” with guess which parent at the top of the heap.

A HIERARCHY OF parenting has been created by changes to tax credits for single parents according to single-parent support group One Family.

Many single parents who previously received the One Parent Family Tax Credit have seen it disappear from their tax credit certificates for 2014.

In last year’s budget, the credit was replaced by the Single Person Child Carer Tax Credit which is now only available to one parent as opposed to two previously. The value of the credit will not change, but the decision to remove it from one parent was attacked by One Family at the time for taking money away from the pot from which parents provide for their children...

The measure however has been criticised for not taking account of separated parents who share custody of children and have an equal role in parenting.

One such parent is engineer Scott McEvoy who has had shared custody of his three children with their mother the the past nine years. He says they have a equal and shared parenting routine and feels that removing the tax credit from him feels like tax office does not respect the decision of the courts system.

“I was reading through my tax credit cert when I got it there and I noticed single parent tax credit was gone. I kind of thought that I remembered reading something about this,” he explains.

“So I rang up and I was told that because you’re a man you don’t get it. I kind of thought to myself ‘you can’t say that’ and inquired a bit more but they basically said the same again that you’re a man and you don’t get it. They were quite rude but I’m sure they’re getting questions like this all the time so I just left it.”

In cases of shared custody the Revenue Commissioners decide on the parent who receives the credit based on who receives the child benefit payment, this is the mother in the vast majority of cases.

There’s yet another result of the new law that may well have been intended. As many commenters point out, this is a tax credit. In order to benefit from a tax credit, you have to have sufficient income that can be reduced by the credit in calculating your taxes. In Ireland, as throughout the English-speaking world and many other countries, women do far less paid work than do men. Therefore, fewer Irish women than Irish men have incomes that would qualify for the tax credit. That means that, by channeling the tax credit almost exclusively to mothers, the Irish government will receive more revenue than it did when divorced fathers could receive the credit too. I’m going to say that’s not an accident.

In short, what’s a double whammy for men is a win-win for the government. As usual though, there are problems. The first is the frank discrimination against fathers on the basis of their sex. The second is that the new tax system discourages shared parenting in a country that already does plenty to keep fathers out of their children’s lives. It therefore harms children by further marginalizing their dads.

National Parents Organization is a Shared Parenting Organization

National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved?  Here’s how:

Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.

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