Stimulus Update: One Senator Isn't Giving Up on the Boosted Child Tax Credit

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  • Many families are struggling to make ends meet in the absence of monthly Child Tax Credit payments.
  • Colorado Senator Michael Bennet is fighting to restore the boosted credit.

There may be hope for parents yet.

Last year, the boosted Child Tax Credit served as a lifeline for millions of families with children. Prior to 2021, the credit maxed out at $2,000 per eligible child. Last year, the credit's maximum value rose to $3,600 for children under age 6 and $3,000 for children aged 6 to 17.

And that's not the only change that came down the pike. The boosted Child Tax Credit also became fully refundable. Normally, the credit is only partially refundable, but last year, families could claim it in full even if they had no tax liability.

Furthermore, half of the boosted credit was paid out in the form of monthly installments that arrived in recipients' bank accounts between the months of July and December. It was the recurring nature of those monthly payments that made a huge difference in a lot of people's finances.

Meanwhile, these days, living costs are soaring due to inflation and the Ukraine conflict, which has clearly had an impact on the cost of gas. But unfortunately, parents have had to go without the boosted Child Tax Credit this year. While some lawmakers were initially hoping to extend the enhanced credit to 2022, the spending bill that allowed for that couldn't get enough support in the Senate to pass.

But that doesn't mean parents should write off the boosted Child Tax Credit altogether. One Colorado lawmaker still has the enhanced credit on his radar, and he's not ready to give up the fight to make a boost permanent.

An ongoing battle

Colorado Senator Michael Bennet has actually been fighting to expand the Child Tax Credit for more than eight years. And in light of the temporary boost the credit got in 2021, he's more motivated than ever to keep pushing for it.

Last year, the boosted Child Tax Credit did a great job of pulling millions of children out of poverty and helping families put food on the table. Now that the boosted credit is off the table, much of that progress has already been reversed.

That's the bad news. The good news, though, is that there's now data pointing to the positive impact the boosted credit brought about. And that could fuel the argument for permanent changes that make the Child Tax Credit more generous.

There's lot of opposition

While some lawmakers insist that the Child Tax Credit should do more than it currently does, many disagree. For one thing, some lawmakers equate the credit to a form of welfare and don't want to boost it for fear of disincentivizing people from earning money instead.

Plus, there's the cost to consider. Expanding a credit that millions of households are eligible for isn't free, and some lawmakers are concerned about the budgetary strain an ongoing boost might cause.

Still, lawmakers such as Bennet aren't ready to let the issue go. In fact, Bennet thinks an expanded credit will happen -- it's just a question of when.

Unfortunately, a lot of people need that "when" to be now. With living costs skyrocketing, many households need an immediate lifeline to keep up with their bills. And while we could see a boosted Child Tax Credit down the road, the chances of that happening at any point in 2022 are growing slimmer by the day.

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