$3,000/$3,600 child tax credit: how many can I claim?
Included in President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan, the $1.9tn coronavirus relief package, is an extended child tax credit for qualifying families.
It's still uncertain when Americans could see the third round of stimulus checks arrive, as negotiations still need to crunch the details on the ARP. In the meantime let's look at who will be eligible for this extended credit and how they could benefit from it.
What are tax credits?
A tax credit is a sum of money that can be subtracted from the amount of tax an individual owes to a country's inland revenue, in the US' case, the IRS.
It only applies to taxpayers and can be either refundable, allowing you to claim the full credit even if it is more than your tax bill, or non-refundable, which limits what you get to no more than the tax you owe.
Bonus child tax credit: eligible families, how many children can I claim?
Under Biden’s plan, qualifying households would get a credit of $3,000 a year for every child aged between six and 17, and $3,600 for every child under six. The scheme would last for 12 months.
As yet, there has been no indication that there would be a limit to the number of children that one family or taxpayer can claim. For more FAQs see the IRS website on child tax credits.
Among the other economic-aid measures for Americans proposed by the ARP is a stimulus check of up to $1,400, a $400 weekly unemployment-benefits boost and an increase of the national minimum wage to $15 an hour.
A key aspect of the child tax credit in Biden's proposed package is that it would be refundable, so claimants would receive the $3,000/$3,600 in full even if they pay less in taxes.
The ARP, and the child tax credit it proposes, is not yet law; negotiations between Democrats and Republicans are expected in a bid to agree a bipartisan stimulus package, with experts predicting a bill will be passed by Congress by March.
Extended ARP child tax credit: how is it different?
Currently, a single parent on an annual salary of less than $200,000 and married parents on less than $400,000 are able to claim a child tax credit of $2,000 per year for children under 17 years of age. An exception is if that amount is more than the tax they owe, in which case they can seek an alternative credit of up to $1,400.
Families with earnings higher than the maximum income threshold receive a reduced amount; the planned upper limits for the ARP's expanded child tax credit do not appear to have been confirmed, but it is expected that they would be similar or identical.
More information can found on the IRS official website for current child tax credit.
27 million more eligible children
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), making the $3,000/$3,600 child tax credit fully refundable would see 27 million more children qualify for the payment, having missed out on the present credit because they belong to low-earning families who do not pay enough tax.
The CBPP adds that the move would lift more than three million people in the US, including two million children, over the poverty line.
Extended tax credit: a permanent change?
According to a report in the Washington Post on Friday, Democratic lawmakers are also working to make the proposed $3,000/$3,600 child tax credit a permanent scheme, rather than the temporary measure set out in the ARP.
Democrats also want families to receive the expanded child credit in direct monthly payments of $250/$300, rather than having to wait until the end of the tax year to claim a lump sum from the IRS, the Post adds.
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