The child tax credit has saved millions from poverty – it needs to be expanded
In November, the US House of Representatives passed its version of the Biden administration’s Build Back Better Act. Without Senate passage, the Build Back Better Act is now in political limbo due to intra-party disagreements.
The absence of one of the most popular provisions of the legislation, an extension of expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) benefits through 2022, is already negatively affecting millions of families and children across the country. country. Without the improved CTC, American families risk falling back into poverty.
Congress still has the power and opportunity to deliver on its promise to support American families and children through increased opportunity and financial well-being by extending the CTC. We have already seen overwhelmingly positive results with the most recent expansion of the child tax credit, through the 2021 US bailout, which lifted 3.7 million children out of poverty just last December. This decrease in child poverty has also had a widespread and equitable impact for families, with estimated poverty reductions of 52%, 45% and 61% for Black, Latino and Indigenous children, respectively. Prior to the passage of the 2021 U.S. bailout, nearly half of all black and Latino children were excluded from full CTC benefits because their families earned so little income that they were ineligible for the CTC. necessary service.
However, since January, families no longer receive monthly child tax credits and an estimated 10 million children are expected to fall back into child poverty this year, an avoidable hardship that will negatively affect 3.8 million Latinos, 2 .9 million whites, 2.1 million black children, 426,000 Asians and 280,000 natives.
In 2021, parents also reported immense emotional benefits from increased Child Tax Credit payments. A study administered by national polling firm Ipsos, in consultation with the Center for Law and Social Policy, found: “Nearly 70% of respondents who said they received the monthly checks said the payments made them feel less stressed. by money.
It should be easy for any elected official to support the reduction of child poverty. But despite recent and significant national progress in this effort thanks to the expansion of the CTC, 51 US senators oppose its extension until 2022 or favor the addition of historically racist and burdensome work requirements in exchange for their endorsement of the Build Back Better Act. When coupled with disagreements over job demands, partisan divisions, record inflation, the likelihood of a bipartisan agreement to push forward the improved CTC in 2022 remains low. However, Congress must act to protect children whose families could be pushed back into poverty even as the economy booms. These families are still under daily threat from COVID-19, which disproportionately impacts families and communities of color. It is urgent and imperative that Congress get on the same page when it comes to providing desperately needed support to American families and children.
The consequences of not extending child tax credit extensions, through another version of the Build Back Better Act or no legislation at all, are dire, especially for families of color. The Biden administration has recognized the “ingrained disparities in our laws and public policies” and has pledged to advance racial equity on its agenda. Without the expanded CTC, any opportunity to build back better could leave behind millions of families and children.
Congress must now decide whether to leave American families and children with an unfulfilled promise of increased opportunities for financial well-being and equity or act immediately by extending the CTC expansion. We urge lawmakers to consider and act on the negative impact the absence of this earned benefit enhancement would have on low-income and working families across the country.
The results of the CTC 2021 have clearly been effective in reducing poverty. Now the economic fate of 10 million children and their families rests in the hands of the Senate to act again. The nation is waiting, but our children cannot wait any longer.
Gary Cunningham is President and CEO of Prosperity Now. Since 1979, Prosperity Now has worked to empower millions of people, especially people of color and those on limited incomes, to achieve financial security, stability, and ultimately prosperity.