July 24, 2014

Bread for the World Urges House to Reject Bill that Threatens to Increase Child Poverty

Washington, D.C. – Bread for the World urges the House of Representatives to not pass a bill that would increase child poverty. Deemed a “reverse Robin Hood bill,” H.R. 4935 threatens to take child tax credit (CTC) benefits from lower-income working families to give to wealthier families.

“The child tax credit is one of our country’s key anti-poverty programs,” said Amelia Kegan, deputy director of government relations at Bread for the World. “Lower-income working families struggle enough and should not be pushed deeper into poverty by this bill.”

In 2009, Congress made the CTC available to low-income working families, enabling them to begin to receive part of the credit once earnings reached $3,000. Under this bill, a single mother with two children who works full time at the minimum wage (about $14,500 a year) would completely lose her CTC of $1,725. The bill ends the credit for many low-income working families and reduces it for many more by failing to extend the 2009 improvements. By not extending the CTC improvement, 12 million people, including 6 million children, would be pushed into poverty or deeper poverty.

The bill also requires parents to use a Social Security number rather than an individual taxpayer identification number to claim the credit. This will prevent 2 million families with a working immigrant parent from claiming the credit, hurting as many as 5.5 million children—4.5 million of whom are U.S. citizens. The average income in these families is about $21,000 per year.

At the same time, the bill allows those with higher incomes to get the credit, meaning those earning between $150,000 and $250,000 can now claim it. On average, families with kids earning between $100,000 and $200,000 per year would receive $550 more.

This vote comes on the heels of the release of the annual KIDS COUNT Data Book by the Anne E. Casey Foundation. The report revealed that, in 2012, 23 percent of U.S. children lived in poor families. The United States ranks 34th for child poverty among 35 wealthy countries surveyed. 

“Tax credits help working families make ends meet so they can provide for their families,” Kegan added. “This reverse Robin Hood-style policy stands to send more than six million children into poverty or deeper into poverty while those with more resources claim additional benefits.”

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