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Experts Disagree On Impact Of Expanded Child Tax Credit

Tax Forms

(Pixabay)

The IRS will make direct payments July through December to parents through the expanded Child Tax Credit, but experts disagree how effective the program will be.  

The credit covers almost 88 percent of American children, meaning a majority of parents who filed income taxes this year will receive $300 a month for each child under age 6, and $250 for each child between 6 and 17. The second half of the credit will be applied to taxes next April.  

Matt Will, associate professor of finance at the University of Indianapolis, said so many families qualify that the credit is similar to taking money out of your left pocket and putting it in your right pocket. 

“That’s of no benefit to the economy,” Will said. “And there’s transaction costs involved with that, so that’s going to hurt the economy. Because any time I take a dollar from you and give it back to you, there’s money lost in the process.”  

Will said the Child Tax Credit is problematic because it disregards parents’ employment status and pays them for having kids. He thinks the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a better way to fight childhood poverty because it promotes work.

The EITC is a credit for low-income taxpayers. The total amount differs for individuals depending on income, marital status and number of children. You do not need children to qualify, whereas the Child Tax Credit is specifically for taxpaying parents.

Jessica Fraser, director of the Indiana Institute for Working Families, said  the EITC has been the single most effective anti-poverty tool the country has ever used but it only comes as one payment a year.  

“Families don’t have expenses for children in one lump sum at tax time,” Fraser said.  

She said the new credit is great for families because it is payable even to low-income families who owe no federal taxes.   

Fraser said more than 1.4 million Hoosier kids will benefit from the changes, with almost 556,000 of them from low-income, no-tax families.  

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