RESULTS’ Yolanda Gordon on justice in the tax code for caregivers

November 2, 2023
by Yolanda Gordon, Manager, Expansion and Advocacy

“Cause, man, these…food stamps don’t buy diapers…”  
-Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” 

RESULTS fights for economic justice in the tax code. This means a tax code that comes through for those of us whose labor remains invisible, even though we perform essential work in society. In this case, I am thinking about mothers, parents, siblings, and other caregivers whose critical work goes largely unpaid. 

New legislation could offer financial tools to caregivers 

Caregiving is a vital service, and 90 percent of caregivers in the U.S. are women. Thirty-nine percent of women left the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic due to lack of child care. Recently, Rep. Gwen Moore and co-sponsor Rep. Dwight Evans reintroduced the Worker Relief and Credit Reform Act which would provide a caregiving-focused update to the Earned Income Tax Credit. This update would free up needed resources to families that include full-time unpaid caregivers. This legislation even extends support to younger caregivers (under age 25), acknowledging the labor of siblings and cousins of young children. 

Speaking alongside Rep. Gwen Moore on behalf of caregivers was an honor 

As part of this work toward creating economic justice in the tax code, on October 24th, I participated in a congressional briefing hosted by Global Women’s Strike. Rep. Moore spoke about her proposed legislation, and I spoke as well. It was an honor to present alongside other women and grandparents. Like millions in the U.S. today, we have had difficulty providing the care our families need while paying the bills. For me especially, and for many of my co-speakers, we have cared for members of our family with special needs.  

Unpaid caregiving is bad for the economy 

It is unjust that our society functions on the unpaid labor of (mostly) women. But it is also bad for the economy. Twenty-two percent of women report not having enough savings for retirement due to caregiving responsibilities. Our economy loses $6 billion annually due to unpaid caregiving. According to Rep. Moore, 80 percent of our economy is consumer spending. Unpaid caregivers cannot engage in the consumer economy without wages or other cash compensation for their work.  

Families—especially children—suffer when caregiving is not valued 

When caregivers are not compensated, they also struggle to meet their family’s basic needs. Some caregivers are unable to stay at home with their loved ones because our current system forces them to get jobs. Then they must try to balance household costs and pay someone else to be the caregiver. Often, much of the money a caregiver earns when forced into the formal labor market gets used on the high cost of the professional caregiver, putting many families in financial distress. Caregivers need more support to ensure that they can care for their loved ones. Rep. Moore’s bill would help address this lack of pay for caregiving. This is an important opportunity for the tax code to better meet the needs of families and fight poverty in the process.    

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