Detroit Free Press
By: Megha Satyanarayana
September 10, 2010
Renewing a federal tax credit for children is one way to keep them out of trouble, local law enforcement officials said Thursday.
Gathered at the Southfield Police Department, the police chiefs of Southfield, Auburn Hills and Macomb Community College urged elected officials to renew the federal Child Tax Credit by the end of the year, as a way to put more money in the pockets of working poor people with children.
"We need everybody to be behind these kids," said former Detroit police officer Capt. Thomas Wilk, now the chief of police for Macomb Community College.
The link between exposure to crime and poverty is well-established, said K.P. Pelleran, state director of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a crime-prevention group. If parents have more money and more security, children are less likely to get into trouble.
Amanda Castle, 27, of Warren -- a working single mother -- said she didn't know about the credit and would use the money to get her three children in more activities.
"A lot of parents are working to make up that income, and a lot of kids are left alone," she said. Lack of supervision can lead to crime, said Southfield Police Chief Joseph Thomas Jr.
Parents can take the $1,000-per-child credit on their federal income tax returns if they earn between $3,000 and $110,000 in a two-parent household and $75,000 in a one-parent home. But the children must be age 16 or younger, American citizens and living with the filing adult for at least half the year.
The Michigan League of Human Services estimates that the parents of about 584,000 children would lose out on the credit if the expanded credit isn't renewed.
But there is little evidence that such credits help, said Randy Paschke, chairman of the Department of Accounting in the School of Business Administration at Wayne State University. He said many people like Castle have never heard of the credit and, "the number of people with low incomes who have to file is almost nonexistent now."
He said the motive behind the credit is commendable, and it will likely be renewed, but "I don't think it belongs in tax law."