- About Hunger
- How to End Hunger
- Our Impact
- Get Involved
By Marlysa D. Gamblin
The House tax proposal contains language that would limit eligibility for the child tax credit (CTC) to taxpayers who provide a Social Security number (SSN). But this proposal is misguided. Requiring a SSN to file for the CTC will hurt both low-income families and local/state economies.
Losing access to the CTC would worsen hunger and poverty among U.S. citizen children who live with an undocumented parent. This group of 4.5 million children is already at higher risk of hunger and food insecurity—the term the U.S. department of Agriculture (USDA) uses for those who sometimes run out of money for food. This is certainly ironic given that the original intent of the CTC was to keep children from falling into poverty. And it succeeds in its mission: in 2016, the CTC lifted approximately 2.7 million people out of poverty, including about 1.5 million children.
People who file their taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) because they do not have an SSN can currently claim the CTC, so citizen children with undocumented parents can benefit from the tax credit. According to the Internal Revenue Service, there are more than 2 million working poor families who pay taxes with ITINs and would be affected by proposals that require a SSN.
Half of all families who claim the CTC earn less than $20,000 per year. Some live on far less, because undocumented farm workers earn as little as $7,500 a year—only one-seventh of the median national income of $59,039. Such low earnings explain why undocumented immigrant households have a food insecurity rate of nearly 24 percent—more than twice the national rate. The average CTC refund of $1,800 is a significant sum for families living in poverty, and one that will buy a lot of groceries.
The second harmful impact of restricting the CTC to taxpayers with SSNs is damage to local economies, particularly in communities with many immigrants. According to the Pew Research Center, there are 11.3 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, 8 percent of the workforce. They pay taxes and spend money in their local economies. In fact, undocumented immigrants currently pay $11.6 billion annually in state and local taxes. That is in addition to the jobs they support with their local spending and in addition to federal taxes. Taking resources from families with children, many of whom are struggling to put food on the table, will only hurt local economies since these families will have less money to spend.
If we are serious about ending U.S. hunger and poverty, policymakers need to be serious about preserving the original intent behind smart policies such as the CTC. A tax refund for low-wage workers with children to support helps the workers, the children, and the economy. According to the ideals our country was founded on, we should be expanding opportunities for everyone so they can improve their own lives and those of their children.
Marlysa D. Gamblin is the domestic advisor for policy and programs for specific populations at Bread for the World Institute.
Losing access to the CTC would worsen hunger and poverty among U.S. citizen children who live with an undocumented parent.
“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in faith.” These words from Colossians 2:6 remind us of the faith that is active in love for our neighbors.
The Bible on...
Dear Members of Congress,
As the president and Congress are preparing their plans for this year, almost 100 church leaders—from all the families of U.S. Christianity—are...
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is designed to respond to changes in need, making it well suited to respond to crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bread for the World and its partners are asking Congress to provide $200 million for global nutrition in the fiscal year 2020 budget.
In 2017, 11.8 percent of households in the U.S.—40 million people—were food-insecure, meaning that they were unsure at some point during the year about how they would provide for their next meal.