A new survey from the Center for Law and Social Policy found that most families that received child tax credit payments struggled financially after those payments went away.
Parents are having a hard time making ends meet after the end of monthly Child Tax Credit (CTC) payments, according to a new survey from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). The survey, which documented responses from low- and moderate-income families, found that nearly 80% of eligible families received CTC payments, and those extra funds went primarily to paying for necessities. While this data is no surprise — a number of surveys have been published since the expiration of the CTC program — it serves as a stark reminder that the CTC helped keep families afloat and that its end harmed families deeply.
Child Tax Credit payments were received monthly by eligible families from July to December 2021. The program — which made the tax credit fully refundable, expanded the tax credit from $2,000 to up to $3,600 per kid, and could be sent in monthly installments — was a resounding success and helped families afford necessities and pay bills.
However, the Senate failed to pass an extension on the monthly payments despite overwhelmingly positive feedback from families on both sides of the aisle. Lone Democratic holdout Senator Joe Manchin is credited with poleaxing the extension in a crushing blow to the Biden Administration’s landmark Build Back Better Act, which would’ve extended the monthly payments.
Previous research credited the monthly CTC payments with lifting four million children out of poverty, slashing child hunger rates, and helping even upper middle class families pay for necessities such as bills and education payments.
But since payments ended in December 2021, the CLASP survey found that 60% of parents report struggling to pay for necessities. Two-thirds have slipped into food insecurity, 65% are struggling to pay household bills, close to 50% have difficulty paying for clothes for their children, and 40% are struggling to make rent or mortgage payments.
Fifty percent of Hispanic, 39% of white, and 34% of Black survey respondents reported visiting food banks and pantries more frequently after the end of monthly payments. Many respondents also reported difficulty paying for their children's toys, gifts, and extracurricular activities.
The Senate’s failure to extend the CTC payments could also negatively affect trust in the government. According to the CLASP survey, 74% of Hispanic respondents and 60% of Black respondents said the monthly payments made them feel like the government was concerned with the wellbeing of their families and the needs of their communities when they were being sent.
Although the Senate hasn’t given up on monthly payments for families, it’s unlikely that Manchin and the Republicans will give the go-ahead to any Democrat-backed package. Republican Senator Mitt Romney is floating a monthly payment package, but it excludes many families by requiring a minimum of a $10,000 income, the lowest income amount required to file a tax return, and there is also a work requirement for eligibility, which excludes parents on disability.
Romney’s plan is touted as a zero-deficit plan, which means money to fund the program would not increase the U.S. budget deficit. Instead, Romney would cancel social safety net programs that families depend on — namely the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the Earned Income Tax credit, Head of Household tax filing status, the child and dependent care tax credit, and the state and local tax deduction (SALT).
Although Democrats are hoping for an end-of-year miracle on a more inclusive version of the CTC, unless they can wrangle 10 Republican votes and rein in their own rogue Senator Manchin, it looks like more struggles are ahead for American families.