CHILD TAX CREDIT

Congress could remove Social Security Number requirement for Child Tax Credit: who would benefit?

The Build Back Better package aims to redress inequalities in the United States, and will remove a condition that prevented some immigrant families from receiving the CTC.

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Congress could remove Social Security Number requirement for Child Tax Credit: who would benefit?

The White House is still looking to secure the vital votes needed to pass the remainder of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, which has been billed as a generational investment in American society.

The cost of the current framework stands at around $1.75 trillion and include a vast range of programmes to increase the national safety net. A one-year extension for the expanded Child Tax Credit is included in proposals, which Biden had hoped to extend through 2025.

But as well as securing the monthly direct for families, the Build Back Better bill would actually open up eligibility for the Child Tax Credit to groups who had not previously been able to receive it.

Children without a Social Security Number could soon be eligible

In the past the Child Tax Credit has been restricted to families who are eligible for a Social Security Number (SSN), excluding many whose immigration status does not allow one. This does not mean that they do not have a legal right to be in the United States, but simply that their immigration status requires they file taxes using an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN).

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a non-partisan research and policy institute, points out that there is widespread public support for supporting children in this position, but a 2017 tax law removed the group's eligibility for the tax credits.

A report from the CBPP reads: “The country has a stake in ensuring that these children get the resources they need to realize their potential, and Build Back Better would ensure that children with ITINs have access to the same credit as other children.”

If passed, the Build Back Better package would ensure that these children are not excluded from the monthly payments in future.

Immigrant families are most likely to miss out on the Child Tax Credit

Recent studies have shown that immigrant parents are less aware of the Child Tax Credit and are therefore more likely to be missing out on their rightful entitlement. While most families should have received the money automatically, low-income households (those not usually required to submit a tax return) have had to register for the programme separately.

This has meant that millions of low-income households have been missing out on the support, which was designed to help lift the poorest families out of poverty. Forbes cites a survey of parents from the week before the first round of the expanded Child Tax Credit began in July which found that only 75% of immigrant parents were aware of the credit, compared to 90% of US-born parents.

These issues were exacerbated by structural issues, such as the Get CTC online portal, which is used to register for the programme, only being available in English until recently. The White House had hoped the policy would halve the number of children in policy over the course of the year but it looks likely to fall short of that lofty target.