Stimulus Update: Here's What's Standing Between You and Another Child Tax Credit Check (and What You Can Do About It)
Here's what stands between your family and more monthly Child Tax Credit checks.
- Partisan infighting is to blame for the lack of progress on the Build Back Better Act and extended Child Tax Credit.
- Politicians are likely to change their stance only with pressure from constituents.
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 holiday recess. That leaves millions of families with no idea of whether they will ever receive another enhanced Child Tax Credit payment like those received monthly from July through December of this year.
Here's what's standing between you and another check in your bank account:
These are highly partisan times, and nearly all Republican lawmakers -- along with Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona -- have publicly declared that they will not support Build Back Better. Their lack of support means that the enhanced Child Tax Credit could be dead in the water, with the December payment being the last. With talking points designed to appeal to their preferred news networks, lawmakers have one eye on their internal polls and another on the 2022 midterm elections.
Republicans are leading the fight against BBBA and the Child Tax Credit. And yet, it's Republican states that have disproportionately benefited. 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 but Kansas have Republican governors. And yet, it's Republicans staking their political capital on fighting against BBBA and the extension of the Child Tax Credit.
Whether it's due to a desire for greater national recognition or a power grab of some sort, it's difficult to determine why either Manchin or Sinema are so determined to tank the president's infrastructure plan while simultaneously pushing millions of children deeper into poverty. Research shows that Manchin and Sinema's home states 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 Manchin's home state will be impacted. That includes 50,000 West Virginia kids who would be driven below the poverty line or deeper into poverty. It matters for many reasons, including the fact that childhood poverty is associated with a lower level of education and poorer health in adulthood. As a result, these children are likely to experience a lifetime of lower earnings, continuing the cycle of extreme poverty in the state (West Virginia is currently the second poorest state in the U.S.).
- According to Save the Children, more than 1 in 5 children in Arizona lives in poverty, and 21.3% of kids face hunger. If the enhanced Child Tax Credit were to continue, projections by the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities indicate that childhood poverty would decrease by 45% in the state.
Read more: Stimulus Update: 4 Ways the Child Tax Credit Has Benefited Families in Need
Critics inside and outside the Capitol
Lawmakers, talking heads, and political pundits have come at the enhanced Child Tax Credit hard. One of their complaints involves low-income families.
In an effort to get money to the neediest families, President Biden's extended Child Tax Credit lifted the minimum earnings requirement that is usually in place. Previously, a family would only qualify for a Child Tax Credit if they had minimum earnings 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 continuation of the Child Tax Credit, giving money to low-income families will remove their incentive to find a job. However, researchers from Columbia University report these fears to be unfounded. Researchers found that only 6% of families (from 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 cut child poverty by 45%.
If the continuation of the expanded Child Tax Credit is vital to your family, you have the option of letting your elected representatives know how you feel. It's possible that even the most stubborn politician can be moved by feedback. If you're not sure how to get in touch with your elected representatives, Gov.com has provided this neat and easy-to-use tool.
Ed Mills, a policy analyst at Raymond James, says that the extension of the Child Tax Credit is currently the least popular part of BBBA. Mills went on to say, "But I think what Democrats are hoping for is that that popularity changes once checks don't get deposited in January."
In other words, politicians may suddenly find themselves in favor of the extended Child Tax Credit after receiving pressure from the voters they depend on to remain in office.
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