On the surface, President-elect Donald Trump’s income tax proposals appear simpler with lower overall tax payments than the current system. With seven tax brackets collapsed into three, you’d assume that everyone will benefit. But if you look under the hood, the single taxpayer with children will likely end up paying more income taxes.

The Impact

Research by Tax Policy Center shows how Trump’s changes will impact single filers with children. The research found that ultimately the Trump plan will increase taxes for more than half of single parent families. (For more, see: Donald Trump's Tax Plan: Who Will Love It.)

First, Trump proposes an increase in the standard deduction to $15,000 for all. The plan will eliminate each $4,050 per member personal exemption. For single parents, the standard deduction would increase to $15,000 from $9,300. That looks okay, until you view the impact of the lost personal exemptions. There will no longer exist individual exemptions for children or head of household. Without personal exemptions, a single parent would be penalized as illustrated in the chart below.

Standard Deduction + Personal Exemptions for Head of Household: Current vs. Trump Plan

Number of Children


Trump Plan
















(Source: Tax Policy Center)

Another penalty for single parents will be the elimination of the head of household filing status. Currently, this filing status helps unmarried taxpayers with dependents and accounts for the financial burden of a single individual caring for others. The existing head of household standard deduction and rate brackets are in between those for married and single filers. Without this tax bracket, single parents suffer.

When the current seven tax brackets are reduced to three, some income amounts will be taxed at higher rates under the Trump plan than at present. The three new tax brackets are: 12%, 25% and 33%. Specifically, Trump plans to eliminate the 10% tax bracket and replace it with a 12% bracket. This one adjustment will increase taxes for all filers with taxable income. Another pitfall is that some taxable income that is within the 25% or 28% brackets currently, would be taxed at 33% under the Trump tax plan. (For more, see: For Wealthy People, Trump's Presidency is Gonna Be 'YUGE'.)

Further, there are additional tax disadvantages to single parents. For low and middle-income care givers, the credit for child care is not large enough to counteract the tax increases from the new tax bracket arrangement. Trump’s plan also seems to benefit parents who don’t pay for child care, according to the Tax Policy Center.

It cites other scenarios where a single parent is disadvantaged. A single parent with two school-aged children who earns $75,000 and doesn’t pay for child care would likely pay $2,440 more under the Trump plan than currently. Add in $8,000 of child care expenses to that same family and they still end up paying $1,640 more than at present.

Even a lower paid single parent would be worse off under the Trump tax plan than the current tax situation. A single parent who earns $50,000, has three school-aged children and no child care expenses would expect to pay approximately $1,188 more in income taxes. Add $6,000 in child care expenses and they would still be better off today than under Trump's propsed tax plan.

The Bottom Line

One of the most disadvantaged group of taxpayers, single parents can expect a tax increase under the Trump tax plan. Although touted as reducing taxes for all, it appears our most vulnerable citizens will be faring worse than the wealthier members of society if the president-elect's tax proposals are enacted into law. (For more, see: Why Donald Trump May Never Pay Federal Income Tax Again.)