Child Tax Credit for Millions of Children in Low-Income Families is At Risk—Call Congress TODAY!

Meredith Dodson, Director of US Poverty Campaigns
July 22, 2014

UPDATE: On July 25, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4935 by a vote of 237-173. TAKE ACTION: Be sure to thank your representative if they voted against the bill.  You can also use our Letter to the Editor template to express your disappointment that the House continues to put tax breaks for corporations and higher-income households above assistance for struggling low-income families -- we urge you to call on your representative by name to hold them accountable.

 

This Friday, the House of Representatives will vote on H.R. 4935, which extends the Child Tax Credit (CTC) for upper-income taxpayers while allowing an important provision lowering the income threshold for the refundable portion of the credit to $3,000, which allows low-income earners to claim the credit, to expire. Citizens for Tax Justice estimated that nearly 9 million families, including 16.5 million children, benefitted from this provision in 2013, and that approximately 3.7 million families would lose the credit altogether if the provision were to expire. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated that nearly one million people were lifted above the poverty line due to this expiring provision. You can learn more about the skewed benefits in H.R. 4953 in this analysis by the Tax Policy Center.

To make things worse, prior to floor consideration the House Rules Committee added language to the bill that would deny the CTC to millions of poor children by requiring that a parent file taxes with a Social Security number (SSN). Immigrants who file with an IRS-issued Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) -- allowed under current law -- would be prevented from claiming the CTC, which could mean up to 5.5 million children, 4.5 million of whom are U.S. citizens, will lose access to the Child Tax Credit. 

TAKE ACTION: Contact House members, urging them to oppose efforts to take away important tax provisions for low-income and vulnerable children and families, and instead protect and strengthen the Child Tax Credit and EITC. Call your U.S. Representative directly (look up by zipcode here: http://capwiz.com/results/dbq/officials/, where you can also view the name of the tax policy aide) or use the toll-free number (888) 245-0215 provided by our friends at the Coalition on Human Needs. You can tailor these talking points for your calls:

I am a constituent and I’m calling to urge you to vote against H.R. 4935, which extends the Child Tax Credit, or CTC, for upper-income taxpayers while allowing the Child Tax Credit for low-income working families earning less than $13,000 to expire. I'm outraged that this legislation would also deny the CTC to 5.5 million immigrant children, 4.5 million of whom are U.S. citizens. I strongly urge the representative to vote against H.R. 4935.

If you are unable to call, use our online alert to email Congress instead.

Need an excuse to follow up with House or Senate members? Use this week’s vote on H.R. 4935 to circle back with the tax policy aides in Washington, including those your group might have met with during the RESULTS/REF International Conference last month. While some in Congress are pushing to pass tax legislation that gives wealthy corporations and individuals large tax cuts, it's important that we remind policymakers that the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and CTC are amongst our most effective tools at reducing poverty. The EITC and CTC kept 10.1 million Americans out of poverty in 2012, half of them children. It is imperative that Congress protect and strengthen these credits, including making important provisions that are set to expire in 2017 permanent and increasing the EITC for workers without children in the home. We have an opportunity now to build momentum for tax policies that create economic mobility for millions of low-income American families. As we follow up with tax aides and mention our concerns about H.R. 4935, urge them to instead support H.R. 769 (House CTC legislation) and H.R. 2116 (House EITC legislation) or S. 836, a Senate bill that protects and expands both the Child Tax Credit and the EITC. 

We must also use this opportunity to broaden the discussion to address the wealth gap, including the racial wealth gap. The tax code helps millions of Americans increase their wealth each year. However, few of these provisions benefit low-income individuals and families. The Financial Security Credit (FSC) is a policy that would allow low-income tax filers to deposit all or part of their refund into a savings account right on their tax return. As incentive, their deposits would be matched up to $500 per year. Let's urge Congress to help low-income families build assets rather than helping the "Haves" accumulate more. Urge your House members co-sponsor H.R.2917, the Financial Security Credit Act of 2013, and let Senate aides know we expect a Senate bill soon. The RESULTS March Action has talking points and background information to help you.