How families have used the child tax credit

As of July, all families in the country except the wealthiest have received child tax credits in the form of monthly cash payments – a one-of-a-kind political jujitsu that converts tax relief, usually given in the form of lump sum at the end of the year, into additional income that expanded America’s safety net.

The program represented the first significant change in U.S. government support for families in decades. Since the 1990s, the Child Tax Credit has only been available to parents who were actively working or looking for work, making the United States an outlier among other developed countries where child subsidies are common.

President Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion US bailout, in addition to turning the tax credit into monthly checks, increased the total amount received by parents and other caregivers and removed it from all working conditions, making more money available to more households.

The initiative, which was originally scheduled to last six months, has now ended with the last of checks sent out on December 15.

Democrats had hoped to make the tax credits permanent as part of Mr. Biden’s Build Back Better plan. But this week, the administration’s broad national agenda was effectively blocked, at least for now, by centrist Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, who voted to extend the tax credit. for children when it was introduced but did not support its expansion. .

“I cannot vote to keep this bill,” Manchin said on Fox News Sunday, citing concerns that the Build Back Better plan would increase national debt and rise in inflation.

The argument echoed that of her fellow Republicans – Senator Lindsey Graham, the senior Republican on the South Carolina Senate Budget Committee, described the administration’s plan as an “inflation bomb” – who were united in their opposition to the Build Back Better legislation.

Experts have noted that since payments of up to $ 300 per child began to land in bank accounts alongside other Covid-related relief, child poverty has fallen to record levels.

In an October Census Bureau report, about half of the estimated 300,000 beneficiaries surveyed said they used the money for food, indicating that the tax credit was also helping to reduce hunger and inadequacy. food. Many beneficiaries also reported spending the funds on child care and school supplies.

Interviews with four families revealed other day-to-day expenses they used the funds for – from doctor’s appointments to car repairs – and the joys of a bit of a break for households that might otherwise live on cash. pays in paycheck.

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