The End of a ‘godsend’: the Expiration of Child Tax Benefits Hits Close to Home.
Families will go without a monthly deposit from the child tax credit for the first time in six months on Friday — a program that was supposed to be part of President Joe Biden’s legacy but has instead become a flashpoint over who is deserving of government assistance.
Andy Roberts, of St. Albans, West Virginia, relied on the payments to assist raise his two young grandsons, whom he and his wife adopted due to the birth parents’ drug addiction recovery.
The Roberts are now paying $550 per month in rent. That money went toward Girl Scout ballet and acting lessons, as well as children’s shoes, which are more expensive than adult shoes, according to Roberts. He described the tax benefit as a “gift from God.”
When it comes to losing payments, Roberts says, “it’ll make you tighten your belt if you have anything to tighten.”
Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package included monthly tax credits, which the president advocated extending for another year as part of a separate bill focusing on economic and social initiatives.
However, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Roberts’ home state, objected to the credit being extended, claiming that the money would discourage people from working and that any further federal expenditure would fuel inflation, which has already reached nearly 40-year high levels.
Last month, 305,000 West Virginia youngsters benefited from the expanded credit, according to IRS data.
Biden’s social spending proposal was derailed by Manchin’s opposition in the evenly divided Senate, and the enhanced tax credits that were issued in the middle of each month were set to expire in January. This is eroding family incomes at a time when consumers are already dealing with rising prices.
Families, on the other hand, only received half of their 2021 credit on a monthly basis, with the remaining half arriving when they pay their taxes in the coming months. In 2022, the credit’s amount will be reduced, with full payments only going to families with enough income to repay taxes, a policy choice that will limit the credit’s advantages to the poorest families. The credits for 2022 will not be available until consumers file their taxes at the beginning of the following year.
Families in West Virginia contacted by The Associated Press talked about how their groceries and gas prices have climbed, and how they’ll need to make do with less money than they had a few months ago.
“You’ll have to learn to adapt,” says the narrator “Roberts, who has worked as a car dealer for over 50 years, agreed. “You never imagined things would blow up all of a sudden.” You go down to the store and buy a package of meat for $7-8 per pound.”
The enlarged child tax credit and its monthly payments, according to the Biden administration’s calculations, were a policy accomplishment that paid out $93 billion over six months. In December, more than 36 million families got compensation. The payments were $300 per month for children under the age of five and $250 per month for children aged six to seventeen.
The Treasury Department declined to respond to inquiries about the enhanced child tax credit’s expiration, which has become a politically charged subject as part of Biden’s roughly $2 trillion economic packages, which has stalled in the Senate.
Out of fear that automatic government assistance would induce people to quit their employment, Manchin has backed some type of work requirement for those receiving the payout. Yet, in a written statement last month, his main complaint sidestepped that issue by expressing concerns about inflation and how a one-year extension hid the full costs of a tax benefit that may become permanent.
“My Democratic colleagues in Washington are hell-bent on radically reshaping our culture in such a way that our country becomes even more exposed to the threats we confront,” Manchin added. He went on to say that he was concerned about inflation and the national debt’s magnitude.
During September and October, the Census Bureau examined recipients’ spending habits. Almost a third of families with young children used the credit to pay for school expenditures, while roughly a quarter used it to pay for child care. Around 40% of recipients indicated they used the money primarily to pay off debt.
There are distinct benefits in terms of boosting results for underprivileged children whose families previously were unable to receive the full tax credit due to low earnings. According to the Urban Institute, extending the credit as proposed by the Biden administration would reduce child poverty by 40%.
As some MPs had predicted, the tax incentives did not result in a mass exodus from the workforce. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people working jumped from 58 percent the month before the monthly payments started to 59.5 percent last month. West Virginia saw the same trend, with the employment-to-population ratio rising to 52.9 percent, the pre-pandemic level.
Most studies imply that the credit’s impact would be statistically minor in the long run, although there is an academic disagreement on whether it could decrease employment in the long run.
Academics researching the tax credit are split on how a long-term program would affect the economy and child welfare.
In an economy with around 150 million employment, Katherine Michelmore, an associate professor of public policy at the University of Michigan, and two other researchers projected that roughly 350,000 parents would leave the workforce, a statistic that isn’t all that significant.
Michelmore believes that a permanent tax credit would benefit the economy in the long run since children from higher-income families “tend to do better in school and are more likely to graduate from high school.” Even if it takes another 50 years, there will be further cost savings in the future.”
One of the fundamental policy problems is whether bureaucracy or parents are better at spending money on children. To avoid transferring money directly to families, Manchin has offered a 10-year, fully financed version of Biden’s economic strategy, which would eliminate the focus on child tax credits and instead support programs like universal pre-kindergarten.
“It’s a moral question,” Michelmore added, “do you trust families to make their own judgments.”
Chelsea Woody, a hairdresser from Charleston, West Virginia, is a single mother who works six days a week to make ends meet. The extended child tax credit payments had helped her pay for her son’s daycare and allowed her to buy him new clothes.
“It is quite beneficial. Woody remarked as she loaded groceries into her car, “It’s an extra cushion, instead of me worrying about how I’m going to pay a bill or if anything comes up.” “It’s beneficial to a large number of people.” It aids working families, who face the biggest difficulties. I’m rarely at home with my child because I’m always working.”
Boak reported from Baltimore, while Hussein reported from Washington.