Extend child tax credit
This appeared in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Lobbyists are lining up to push Congress to approve more corporate tax breaks before Jan. 1, including extending deductions for research and development. Supporters argue that U.S. businesses need such incentives to keep the nation competitive in the world economy.
But nothing boosts the nation’s ability to compete as much as a direct investment in the health and security of its children. As members of Congress negotiate a year-end budget package, they should not approve more incentives for big business, without also extending an expanded Child Tax Credit.
Ideally, Congress should make the expanded CTC permanent. At minimum, Congress should extend it for two years, and make it retroactive for this year.
No federal program has been more effective. The expanded CTC benefited 60 million children and helped reduce U.S. child poverty rates by 46%, said Ken Patterson of RESULTS, an anti-poverty advocacy group. Not surprisingly, Columbia University researchers found a 41% increase in child poverty, after expanded monthly Child Tax Credits stopped in January.
Under last year’s American Rescue Plan, the maximum Child Tax Credit increased to $3,000, or $250 a month, for each child aged 6 to 17; and to $3,600, or $300 a month, for younger children. More than 90% of all families with children received an average benefit of $4,380, reports the Tax Policy Center. The CTC became the largest federal cash-support program for children in 2021. Monthly installments enabled families to budget for food, utility and housing costs. Some families opened their first bank account.
Any version of the Child Tax Credit approved before Jan. 1 should not include work requirements. Work requirements sound reasonable, but they withhold money from the children who most need it and aggravate racial disparities. They also fail to account for circumstances common in poor families, such as children living with retired grandparents; and interfere with education and training that are essential to making families self-sufficient.
Extending an expanded Child Tax Credit this year is a moral, social and economic imperative.