US Senate should okay a simple and effective proposal to slash child poverty • NC Newsline – NC Newsline

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The U.S. Senate has a crucial opportunity to expand the highly successful Child Tax Credit (CTC) by adopting the bipartisan tax bill that recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives with overwhelming support.

The CTC expansion in the tax bill would provide much needed resources for 16 million U.S. children in working families with low incomes to help meet essential needs, alleviate stress, and promote children’s health and well-being. These families currently receive a smaller CTC than families with higher incomes, who benefit from the maximum credit for each child. More than half a million children in North Carolina would benefit from the CTC expansion in the first year.

The cost of nearly everything – from housing to food – is the highest it’s been in 40 years. Families need relief now. The most immediate, meaningful, and direct way to help families meet basic needs as they navigate an uncertain economy is for Congress to pass this CTC expansion.

When families are overloaded with stress – particularly financial stress – the risks for child maltreatment increase. Conversely, research demonstrates that when our tax dollars are invested in children and families through tax credits, the money is used to help pay for concrete supports like food, rent, childcare, diapers, transportation to work – and Child Protective Services reports and foster care entries drop significantly.

In 2021, the CTC was expanded and made fully available to those with little to no income through monthly payments. When people had the income they needed to meet the basics for their families, it infused local economies with tens of billions of dollars and immediately reduced food insecurity by nearly one-third. Child poverty fell to an historic low of 5.2% in 2021, but when the expanded CTC expired at the beginning of 2022, it more than doubled to 12.4%, erasing record gains made against child poverty. We saw the power of the CTC – failure to enact this bipartisan tax bill will fail our children and the stronger foundation for our future that is possible when we fight hardship with policy.

A recent study found that North Carolina is the 5th worst state in the nation to be a working parent, due in part to the high cost of childcare (parents have to spend about a third of their annual income on childcare expenses) and the state not mandating paid maternity leave. One specific provision within the bipartisan tax bill aims to significantly address this issue. It allows families, whose income decreases due to events like parents taking time off for childbirth and childcare when paid maternity leave isn’t an option, to consider their earnings from the previous year for tax purposes. In so doing it provides important support to keep working parents connected to the labor market and is in part why the bipartisan tax bill is estimated to be a positive for employment outcomes.

This ranking not only poses challenges for children but also presents significant obstacles for businesses striving to attract top talent and maintain loyal employees. Many of today’s workforce are also parents and caregivers who are actively nurturing the next generation of workers. Each employee and employer was once a child with their own aspirations for the future. Our children represent the future workforce, and it is up to all of us to enact policies that strengthen families, enabling every child to realize their full potential. The Child Tax Credit (CTC) presents an opportunity to alleviate the financial strain facing families, thereby fostering an environment where our future workforce can flourish.

Families, and especially our children, have struggled since the pandemic but we know children do well when their families are supported. The CTC has alleviated stress and promoted children’s health and well-being and is a powerful tool to foster secure and stable environments for our children.

Hard working families with children are the engine of our workforce and pay into our tax system to support all of us. When workers are overloaded with stress, productivity lags. Investing in families is one of the best uses of our public money. The CTC is good for businesses, good for our economy and will help prevent child maltreatment. Join us in calling on Senators Tillis and Budd to support this legislation to invest in our children, families, and our future workforce

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