Here’s what separates you from another child tax credit check (and what you can do about it)
Here’s what’s between your family and the monthly child tax credit checks.
Traditionally, the child tax credit has been a bipartisan issue, with lawmakers on both sides aware of the impact such a credit would have on the lives of their constituents. Not so these days. Rather than pass the Build Back Better Act (BBBA), members of Congress and the Senate debated the issues on television, then quietly slipped out of town for the holidays. This leaves millions of families unsure whether they will ever receive another enhanced child tax credit payment like those received monthly from July to December of this year.
Here’s what separates you from another check on your bank account:
We live in very partisan times, and nearly all Republican lawmakers – along with Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona – have publicly stated that they will not be supporting Build Back Better. Their lack of support means the improved child tax credit could be dead in the water, with December’s payment being the last. With talking points designed to appeal to their favorite news networks, lawmakers have one eye on their internal polls and another on the 2022 midterm elections.
Republicans are leading the fight against the BBBA and the Child Tax Credit. And yet it is the Republican states that have benefited disproportionately. According to Treasury Department data, these 10 states received, on average, the highest monthly child tax credit payments:
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
Each is considered a “red state,” and all except Kansas have Republican governors. And yet it is the Republicans who are betting their political capital on the fight against the BBBA and the extension of the child tax credit.
Whether due to a desire for greater national recognition or some sort of power grab, it is difficult to determine why Manchin or Sinema are so determined to derail the president’s infrastructure plan while at the same time pushing millions of children deeper into poverty. Research shows that the home states of Manchin and Sinema will be hit as hard as the rest of the country. For example:
- If the enhanced child tax credit is not extended, the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy says 346,000 children in the home state of Manchin will be affected. This includes 50,000 West Virginia children who would be driven below the poverty line or deeper into poverty. This matters for many reasons, including the fact that child poverty is associated with lower education and poorer health in adulthood. As a result, these children are likely to experience lower income lives, continuing the cycle of extreme poverty in the state (West Virginia is currently the second poorest state in the United States).
- According to Save the Children, more than one in five children in Arizona live in poverty and 21.3% of children go hungry. If the improved child tax credit were to continue, projections from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities indicate that child poverty would decline by 45% in the state.
Read more: Stimulus Update: 4 Ways The Child Tax Credit Has Benefited Families In Need
Criticism inside and outside the Capitol
Lawmakers, talking heads and political experts have hit hard on the enhanced child tax credit. One of their complaints concerns low income families.
In an effort to bring cash to families most in need, President Biden’s extended child tax credit has lifted the minimum income requirement that is typically in place. Previously, a family would only qualify for a child tax credit if it had a minimum income of $ 2,500. Biden’s plan made the child tax credit fully refundable, meaning families could receive the full credit, even if they weren’t required to file taxes.
According to some fighting against the maintenance of the child tax credit, giving money to low-income families will remove their incentive to find a job. However, researchers at Columbia University report that these fears are unfounded. The researchers found that only 6% of families (at all income levels) plan to work less or change jobs if monthly child tax credit payments continue. The same researchers found that the child tax credit could reduce child poverty by 45%.
If maintaining the expanded Child Tax Credit is vital to your family, there is an opportunity to let your elected officials know how you feel. It’s possible that even the most stubborn politician could be moved by the comments. If you don’t know how to get in touch with your elected officials, Gov.com has provided this neat and easy to use tool.
Ed Mills, political analyst at Raymond James, says extending the child tax credit is the least popular part of BBBA right now. Mills went on to say, “But I think what Democrats are hoping for is that that popularity changes once the checks aren’t deposited in January.”
In other words, politicians may suddenly find themselves in favor of extending the child tax credit after being pressured by the voters they depend on to stay in power.