A Matter of Equity: The Expanded Child Tax Credit
Next week,, the House Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to mark up legislation relating to the newly expanded Child Tax Credit, an important step toward making the CTC permanent and available beyond this year to almost all families with children.
Making the CTC permanent, including children of immigrant families among its recipients, and making it fully refundable – meaning the lowest-income families would receive the same benefit as everyone else – are keys to lifting low-income families out of poverty as well as battling systemic racism in America. President Biden included most of this in his American Families Plan, although he proposed extending the expanded credit through 2025, while making permanent full benefits for families with the lowest incomes.
That’s the message a group of advocates fighting for the CTC brought to a news conference Wednesday, September 8. The advocates are among a large number of progressive groups – and their hundreds of thousands of members – urging Congress that permanent CTC expansion be included in the Build Back Better plan, currently being negotiated.
Participating in the news conference were Amanda Jackson, Economic Justice Campaign Director for Color of Change; Eric Rodriguez, Senior Vice President, Policy and Advocacy, for UnidosUS; and Katrina Gamble, Senior Advisor for Economic Security Project Action, who moderated the event.
Gamble noted that the newly expanded CTC, which began landing in families’ bank accounts and mailboxes in mid-July, already has reached families with 61 million children. She said it resulted in an increase in food security and has enabled families to meet basic needs.
“We believe that the Child Tax Credit is an essential component of the Build Back Better agenda and can be a driver of economic and racial equality,” Gamble said. “We need to make the Child Tax Credit permanent. As part of that, we need to guarantee that the lowest-income families continue to have access to this critical boost.”
Jackson said the 2008 recession decimated wealth and home ownership rates in Black communities, and that making CTC permanent and fully refundable is a way to address that.
“We know that after just the first few payments, the expanded Child Tax Credit is changing lives,” Jackson said. “Full refundability and full access are essential components to achieve the White House’s goals of creating a racially equitable Child Tax Credit and cutting child poverty in half…These are parts of the policy that directly take on structural racism.”
Before passage of the American Rescue Plan in March, which included CTC expansion, Jackson said roughly 27 million children received only a partial CTC or none at all. “That’s especially true for children of color,” she said. “Nearly half of Black and Latinx children were previously left behind by this policy, compared to only about a third of White children. The previous Child Tax Credit also left out 70 percent of families headed by single parents or guardians who are female…We hope that Congress will take this moment to make the expanded, fully refundable Child Tax Credit permanent and more equitable.”
Rodriguez stressed the importance of making sure all immigrant families have access to the CTC and compared and contrasted the records of the Biden Administration and the Trump Administration.
In March 2020, while Trump was still President, Congress passed the first COVID-19 relief legislation, the CARES Act. The legislation excluded families where one spouse filed taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) instead of a Social Security number (even if the other parent had an SSN). This meant that 14 million individuals in mixed-status families, including 4 million children, many of whom were U.S. citizens, were left out and did not qualify for the $1,200 stimulus payments.
That situation was partially rectified with a new relief package passed in December 2020; and more fully rectified with the American Rescue Plan, which passed last March. “It goes right to the heart of what the Administration is for, what we’re all for, which is racial equity,” Rodriguez said.
The Coalition on Human Needs has been collecting petition signatures and writing and sending letters to Congress in support of a permanent, fully inclusive Child Tax Credit expansion. And this week, CHN joined the Children’s Defense Fund and other groups in urging supporters, members, and allies to call their members of Congress. Click here to call your senators and representative today.