3.7 million children plunged into poverty after Child Tax Credit expired, study says
Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Vice President Kamala Harris comments on the crisis in Ukraine, the Queen has COVID-19, and letting the child tax credit lapse comes with a real cost. Have a great Tuesday.
– The real cost. The debate over the child tax credit last year was mired in politics: What tradeoffs could convince centrist holdouts to back the program? What would its lapse mean for President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda?
Often missing from the conversation was how the program’s expiration would affect families who rely on the monthly income. Two months later, we have that perspective—and it’s grim. About 3.7 million more children live below the poverty line, relative to December, after the program’s termination at the end of 2021, according to a new study by Columbia University Center on Poverty and Social Policy. Child poverty rose from 12.1% in December to 17% in January 2022, the highest rate since the end of 2020.
The loss hit Black and Latino children the hardest. Without the child tax credit, which provided low-income families with up to $300 per child, some 600,000 Black children slid below the poverty line for an increase of 30%, while the same occurred for 1.3 million Latino children, an increase of 43%.
Caregivers who received child tax credit payments—as 36 million households did, reaching 61 million children—say they relied on the checks to pay for necessities like housing, clothes, utilities and food. “I would use those payments to save, to get us a new place. It really would be used in a great way,” Brittany Baker, an Ohio mom of four who received $900 a month for the six-month duration of the program, told Bloomberg.
The child tax credit was an advance on tax refunds, so parents and guardians will receive the remaining funds in their upcoming tax returns. Despite praise for how the nationwide child tax credits would cut poverty in half, Congress failed to reach a consensus on how to extend it before the end of last year. As some lawmakers look to revive the benefit, one thing is clear: the monthly payments demonstrated what a solid caregiving infrastructure can accomplish in the U.S. After its discontinuation, the Columbia study shows us the cost.
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