EVA Issues in the News
The child tax credit is one of the most important programs for reducing child poverty in the U.S. But 35% of children either do not receive the full benefit, or do not receive any benefit at all, because their parents earn too little. Jason DeParle of The New York Times highlights how the program’s current structure doesn’t allow it to help the families who need it most – those with the lowest incomes. Click through to read the full article, and learn more about the need for an expanded child tax credit here.
MONROE, La. — With two children and a third on the way, Ciera Dismuke worked five jobs last year while earning just under $15,000. Although the Trump administration often boasts that it doubled the federal child tax credit to $2,000 per child, Ms. Dismuke, like millions of Americans, earned too little to fully qualify. Instead, she got $934 a child, an increase of just $75.
Letha Bradford, a teacher’s aide, qualified for an equally small increase, despite a household budget so tight that she listens to her son’s high school football games outside the stadium to save the admissions fee. Michael Spielberg, a Sam’s Club attendant, also received only a partial credit, while his son, Josh, who has Asperger’s syndrome, doubled up on classes, hoping to graduate early and turn his job bagging groceries into full-time work.
“Food has been a bit of a struggle,” said Josh, 16.
The 2017 tax bill, President Trump’s main domestic achievement, doubled the maximum credit in the two-decade-old program and extended it to families earning as much as $400,000 a year (up from $110,000). The credit now costs the federal government $127 billion a year — far more than better-known programs like the earned-income tax credit ($65 billion) and food stamps ($60 billion).
But children with the greatest economic needs are least likely to benefit.
While Republicans say the increase shows concern for ordinary families, 35 percent of children fail to receive the full $2,000 because their parents earn too little, researchers at Columbia University found. A quarter get a partial sum and 10 percent get nothing. Among those excluded from the full credit are half of Latinos, 53 percent of blacks and 70 percent of children with single mothers.
“The child tax credit is the largest federal expenditure for children, but it excludes from the full benefit the kids who need it the most. This is a significant flaw in its design that’s at odds with the administration’s claims about the achievements of the tax bill.”Sophie Collyer, Center on Poverty & Social Policy, Columbia University
“The child tax credit is the largest federal expenditure for children, but it excludes from the full benefit the kids who need it the most,” said Sophie Collyer, a member of the research team at Columbia, who analyzed the program with her colleagues Christopher Wimer and David Harris. “This is a significant flaw in its design that’s at odds with the administration’s claims about the achievements of the tax bill.”
Issues in the News highlights news items focusing on key issues for poor and low-income families, from fair work and access to health care to family economic security, criminal justice reform, voting rights, and more.
For more information on the child tax credit, see the following resources:
Left Behind: The One-Third of Children in Families Who Earn Too Little to Get the Full Child Tax Credit (Center on Poverty & Social Policy)