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Opinion: Parenting is tough enough. Here’s a way to help Colorado families get ahead.

Imagine working a job where you’re on call all day, every day.

You’re constantly striving to be perfect at it, even though you know that’s impossible. The pressure to make everything work financially is unbelievably high, and the only time you get a break is when you’re finally able to crawl into bed at the end of the day.

Your bosses? Totally demanding, sometimes unreasonably so. But you still work hard because you know you can’t let them down. Oh, and you don’t even get paid for it. At the same time, it’s the most rewarding, humbling and incredible job on the planet. 

Heather Tritten

If this is starting to sound familiar, you may be a parent.

These days, the job of being a parent in Colorado has gotten even more difficult because the costs of everything from rent to child care are skyrocketing. 

With parents facing so many financial challenges, it’s great to see legislators finding ways to put more money in their pockets with the Helping Colorado Families Get Ahead Act (House Bill-1203).

This bill would boost the incomes of hard-working parents across the state by expanding and funding important tax credits at the state level that they already get on their federal taxes.

Unfortunately, too often the tax code is a barrier for parents to overcome rather than a tool to help them get ahead. In addition to complexities everyone must deal with when we file, our tax system is set up to benefit the wealthiest business owners and the richest Coloradans. 

With the tax law Congress passed in 2017, parents got a mixed bag. On the one hand, Congress improved the Child Tax Credit (one of the two state-level credits HB-1203 seeks to expand), but on the other, they created more loopholes and benefits that disproportionately benefit those who need it the least. 

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

Analysis from national tax experts shows one new loophole gives nearly two-thirds of the benefits to the richest 5% of Colorado business owners.

If lawmakers pass the Helping Colorado Families Get Ahead Act, they would be closing that loophole at the state level (business owners would continue to get the federal deduction until it expires in 2026), and use the tax dollars saved to fund the state Child Tax Credit and double the state Earned Income Tax Credit.

Researchers point to those credits as being instrumental in the economic mobility of families who work low-wage jobs, but the benefits are more far-reaching than just getting a bigger tax refund.

Kids of families who receive them live healthier lives, do better in school, are more likely to go on to college (carrying less student debt when they get there), and are even more likely to earn higher incomes when they grow up.

With so many Colorado parents already working hard to be great at the toughest job there is, it’s nice to see legislators looking at ways to remove some of the barriers to their financial success. 

The House Finance Committee is meeting on Monday to consider HB-1203. The members of that committee and the rest of the legislature should vote to make the bill law and do exactly what the bill’s name says: help Colorado families get ahead.

Heather Tritten is the Executive Director of Parent Possible, a nonprofit that promotes and supports evidence-based, high-quality programs focused on parents of young children. She lives in Denver.

Rising Sun