This is no improvement

The so-called Child Tax Credit Improvement Act (HR 4935), currently under debate, alters the current balance of the benefit in favor of those of better means to the detriment of low-income families.

The law that established the Child Tax Credit was enacted in 1997 to help handle the cost of bringing up children. It was expanded in 2001 and reformed in 2009 so its benefits would include poorer families, whose incomes are so low that they do not qualify for the refund. The modifications never changed the basic principle of requiring beneficiaries to have a job and pay taxes.

The House of Representatives is now considering HR 4935, calling it an “improvement.” The bill expands the income limit for the credit so that it applies to families earning more than $200,000 per year. At the same time, it lets provisions from 2009 that helped low-income families expire in 2017.

Also, lawmakers are seeking to eliminate the benefit for those who file their taxes with an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN). Meaning, these people would still pay taxes but would not receive the same tax credit as others who contribute the same amount to Social Security. That’s fairness!

According to the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, 80% of those impacted are Latinos. Almost 4.4 million Latino children will lose this benefit, even if they are U.S. citizens, because their families have a mixed immigration status. This bill loses sight of the fact that the main beneficiaries of the program are not adults; they are children, and the money contributes to their upbringing.

Once again, the House’s Republican leadership is attacking the poor and also the undocumented. Employees who work for a poverty wage were first denied a raise, and now lawmakers want to exclude them from assistance to bring up their children. Also, these leaders want to legally exploit the undocumented, demanding that they pay taxes without getting the associated benefits.

This “improvement” is a case of Robin Hood in reverse: robbing from the poor and giving to the rich. With every step, the House of Representatives is showing indifference that borders on disdain for poor children, whether the ones arriving at the border or the ones who are citizens.