WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, Wednesday questioned witnesses during a hearing about the impacts the enhanced Child Tax Credit (CTC) has on families, the accessibility of the child tax credit for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) and Social Security Number (SSN) filers, and the economic benefits families and the economy will receive with critical investments made in child care by the federal government.
“I’m proud to have voted for the American Rescue Plan, which provided a historic increase to the Child Tax Credit. By boosting the credit to $3600 for infants and toddlers, and $3000 for children, and paying those credits on a monthly basis, child poverty decreased by 30 percent in 2021. In the same year, food insecurity decreased by 24 percent — the equivalent to 2 million fewer children going hungry,” Menendez said. “For parents with a newborn at home and a toddler in daycare, that was $600 a month that helped pay for diapers, for baby formula, for childcare, and for children between six and 17 years of age, the $250 monthly payment went towards new clothes, maybe a laptop for school, the money needed to join an extracurricular activity. Unfortunately, this critical lifeline ended for hardworking families across the nation at the end of 2021.”
Sen. Menendez asked Melissa Lester, a mother of two from Galloway, Ohio, to explain how the enhanced CTC impacted her and her family’s day to day life, and the changes they’ve experienced since its expiration. Ms. Lester stated that the enhanced CTC helped cover the cost of basic needs items such as clothes, shoes and sometimes extracurricular activities. She explained that since the expiration and the birth of her second child, expenses have doubled and less help has been received causing her and her family to run through their savings.
“Child care is about being able to be free to go to work, we talked about the ability to work, child care is a big part of that as well as formation of the child,” Menendez said. “The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit is I think critical in making child care more accessible for working- and middle-class families. The American Rescue Plan took the long overdue step in boosting the credit from $3,000 to $8,000, but that was only temporary.”
Sen. Menendez voted in support of the America Rescue Plan (ARP) which temporarily expanded the CTC for 2021 by increasing the total amount of the CTC to $3,000 per child ages 6 to 17, and to $3,600 per child ages 0-5. This expansion made the CTC fully refundable for the lowest income families, raised the maximum age from 16 to 17, and reduced child poverty by almost 30 percent, lifting 3.7 million children out of poverty in 2021.
The Senator also questioned Amy Matsui, Senior Counsel for National Women’s Law, about the economic benefits families and the economy in the U.S. stand to gain if critical investments in child care were made by the federal government. Ms. Matsui stated that child care is important to keeping women in the paid workforce, supporting families and childcare workers. She added that the restoration of the enhanced CTC, along with the robust systemic investments in child care to make the system stronger and support providers, child care workers, and families overall, would make it easier for parents to go to work, make the workforce more stable for employers, and therefore boost our economic growth overall.
The Senator asked if ITIN taxpayers should be able to use the CTC to keep a portion of the potential taxes owed and use that money on their children just like filers with a Social Security Number (SSN).
“The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 added $1.5 trillion to the annual deficit over ten years. It didn’t supercharge the economy or job creation as promised, but instead simply lined the pockets of corporations and wealthy individuals,” Menendez said. “But one of the cruelest provisions in the law was excluding the Child Tax Credit for certain taxpaying families because of their immigration status.”
The Senator concluded by stating, “Mr. Chairman, we are talking about families who are paying taxes to the federal government, and we will never be able to fully solve the issue of child poverty until ITIN filers also have the ability to access this essential tax credit.”
Sen. Menendez has long been a strong advocate for paid family leave, and has fought tooth and nail over the years, especially during the pandemic, to address inequities that have disproportionately affected women and people of color. Throughout the years, he has supported efforts to create a national paid leave policy. In May, Sens. Menendez and Booker cosponsored the introduction of U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro’s (D-Conn.-03) Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act which creates a permanent, national paid family and medical leave program to ensure every worker, no matter the size of their employer or if they are self-employed or part-time, has access to paid leave for every serious medical event, especially for new parents and older Americans who are more likely to have health issues or caregiving obligations for older relatives.
In July 2022, the Senator led a group of colleagues calling on the agency to extend the filing deadline for filers with individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITIN) impacted by massive processing delays and who were, as a result, unable to file for the enhanced child tax credit (CTC). In May 2020, Sen. Menendez joined Sen. Cory Booker and their Democratic Senate colleagues in calling for the expansion of the earned income and child tax credits, which they expanded for a year under the American Rescue Plan – helping lift women and children out of poverty during that time. Both continue to advocate for the permanent extension of these benefits.