The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt


HYDE PARK, Wednesday—I have just received a letter that poses a problem familiar to a great many women who are heads of families and who have to earn their living and support small children at home. This is what my correspondent says:

"I am a working mother with three small children to support. It is necessary for me to hire a maid to care for them while I work. Her salary is not deductible from my income taxes, which places an extremely heavy burden on an already-taxed check. Our government has now placed an additional tax on me for Social Security for the maid.

"Men find it necessary to hire secretaries or other workers so they may have time for their more important duties; it is the same with me. The men deduct their secretary's salary. I cannot. It is a common practice for businessmen to deduct the cost of entertainment, liquor, fancy parties, etc., as cost of maintaining and running their businesses. I am merely trying to raise a decent family and am being unjustly penalized in the process.

I have written to my Congressman. In return I received a printed bill which contains five little issues, some of which have no chance of being passed. One of the five is an income-tax deduction for help when necessary, as in my case. This bill has been pending for years, just something to soothe such as I, easy to send out without any thought."

This question has been in the minds of a great many women. Very soon it is going to become a question of real interest to manpower in relation to the country's manpower problem in our defense preparedness effort. Everyone with a particular skill is going to be needed and that means more women are going to be called on to use their skills. If they cannot deduct from their income tax returns what they have to pay out to someone to care for the home and the children while they are at work, the country will not be given the chance to use their skills.

I happen to be one of the many women who feel that small children are very fortunate when their mothers can stay home and care for them. They are even more fortunate when their mothers are able occasionally to have a little help so that the constant care of the children does not exhaust them physically. These mothers who can keep their health up to par are better able to meet the spiritual and educational demands that small children make on their mother. I recognize the fact, however, that there are going to be more women who must work in the next few years, and there are always some women who are better mothers when they can work and are not tied down all the time to the routine of homemaking.

It does not seem to me quite fair that women should not have the privilege of deducting what is a business expense—the salary or salaries of people required in the home when the mother is not there. It would be well for the Congress to act on the bill that my correspondent writes of. Perhaps if enough women write to their Congressmen on this subject something may be done.



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Hyde Park (Dutchess County, N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 18, 1951

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.