Spotlight Exclusives

Advocates: GOP Tax Plan Holds Few Benefits for Children, Low-Income Families

Spotlight Staff Spotlight Staff, posted on

Child advocates and anti-poverty activists expressed disappointment over the sparse benefits for children and working families in the tax reform plan released by House Republicans on Thursday.

The concerns centered on the plan’s provision to increase the Child Tax Credit from $1,000 to $1,600 per child, with the first $1,000 refundable. That’s less than the $2,000 per child that Ivanka Trump had pressed for in meetings with members of Congress from both parties, and also less than the increase sought in a proposal by GOP Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mike Lee (R-Okla.)

“The best way to provide real relief to working families is through a straightforward, significant, and permanent expansion of the child tax credit,” Rubio and Lee said in a statement. “We wish the House draft had done more on this front — preferably doubling the credit to $2,000 per child and expanding its applicability to payroll taxes. We look forward to working with our colleagues to make sure working families are moved to the front of the line in the Senate bill.”

Democrats were even more critical. “The GOP’s backroom tax plan puts politics & wealthy special interests ahead of our children’s & nation’s future,” Rep. Suzan Del Bene (D-Wash.) tweeted.

“From attempting to kick millions off of health insurance to rolling back rules protecting worker health and safety, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) have relentlessly pursued their donors’ interests at the expense of working families,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post.

GOP leaders, meanwhile, insisted that the plan would benefit working families. “This plan is for the middle-class families in this country who deserve a break,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Thursday. “It is for the families who are out there living paycheck to paycheck, who just keep getting squeezed.”

Another provision in the tax plan that raised concern among child advocates is a call to eliminate the Adoption Tax Credit (ATC). The ATC was enacted in 1996, and the maximum credit is currently $13,570. The credit phases out for the highest-earning families, and can be applied over the course of five years.

“House GOP tax cuts would hand [the] wealthiest estates up to $4.4 million, while eliminating subsidy for adoption. These are not civilized values,” tweeted Indivar Dutta-Gupta of the Georgetown Law Poverty Center.

One of the authors of the tax plan, Texas GOP Rep. Kevin Brady, himself the father of two adopted sons, defended the provision in an interview with the Washington Post. Brady said the adoption isn’t effective because many families can’t claim it since they don’t pay enough in taxes or they don’t itemize their tax bill.

“This credit is not working,” Brady told the Post. He said the overall effect of the GOP plan would be “giving families more in their paychecks, especially the middle-class families that are crucial for adoption.”

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