The leader of the U.S. bishops’ domestic justice committee this week praised a pending congressional plan for an enhanced child tax credit for taxpayers, calling it “exactly the sort of policy” on which lawmakers should be focused. 

Archbishop Borys Gudziak of the Ukrainian Archeparchy of Philadelphia said in a Wednesday statement that the recently proposed modification to the tax credit “makes meaningful progress” toward helping low-income families. 

The federal child tax credit allows parents and guardians to claim their dependent children on their tax forms, granting a tax break of up to $2,000. Up to $1,600 of that credit may be “refundable,” meaning taxpayers can receive cash payments for the credit. 

A bipartisan deal currently in the works in Congress would increase the refundable portion of the payment to $1,800 in tax year 2023, $1,900 in tax year 2024, and $2,000 in tax year 2025. As well, the measure “would adjust the $2,000 value of the child tax credit for inflation in tax years 2024 and 2025.”

Current law calculates the credit by “multiplying that taxpayer’s earned income (in excess of $2,500) by 15%.” The revisions would allow taxpayers to then “multiply that amount by the number of qualifying children.”

In his statement, Gudziak — who serves as the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development — said the bishops “welcome the recent announcement” of the “bipartisan agreement for an enhanced Child Tax Credit.”

“The bishops have repeatedly urged Congress to pass a strengthened Child Tax Credit that prioritizes the poorest children,” Gudziak said. “This framework makes meaningful progress towards the goal of a strengthened Child Tax Credit by largely targeting improvements in the credit to the lowest-income children.” 

The improved credit “will help support the well-being of families struggling to meet their basic needs and has the power to lift many children out of poverty,” the bishop added. “This is exactly the sort of policy supporting women, children, and families that Congress should prioritize.” 

“We encourage lawmakers to work together to make this improved Child Tax Credit a reality for families in need.”

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The child tax credit has been a part of U.S. tax policy since 1997. First established at $500, it has been raised several times since then, reaching its current $2,000 rate in 2017. 

The 2021 American Rescue Plan briefly expanded the credit to $3,600 and made it fully refundable; that law also allowed parents to claim half of the refundable sum in advance monthly payments. Those new rules expired after that year.