Conservative intellectuals call for tax credit expansion for families amid coronavirus

United States Capitol Credit Phil Roeder via Flickr CC BY 20 CNA 2 4 15 The US capitol. | Phil Roeder via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

A group of conservative figures called on Congress Thursday to expand tax credits for families to ease the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a July 16 letter to the leaders of Congress, the signers called for an expansion of the Child Tax Credit  and the Earned Income Tax Credit. Among the 15 signers of the letter were researcher W. Bradford Wilcox of the Institute for Family Studies, Princeton professor Robert George, and journalist Kathryn Jean Lopez.

"These two tax policies are proven to be the most effective programs at lifting Americans out of poverty and expanding them now would provide much needed aid to America's working families," the letter reads.

The EITC currently provides for a tax benefit for working people with low to moderate income, which the IRS defines as between $15,570- $50,162 for a single person or $21,370-$55,952 for married couples, depending on the number of children.

For families with no children the credit can be as low as $529. For families with one child, the maximum EITC for 2019 was $3,526, while the maximum credit for families with three or more children is $6,557, according to the IRS. The current numbers for 2020, which the IRS has already announced, are similar.

The CTC provides for a tax credit for people with a child under the age of 17, with a current maximum credit amount per qualifying child of $2,000. The maximum amount per child that can be received as a refund is $1,400.

"The CTC also reduces poverty while fostering some of our nation's most critical investments: those that parents make for their children," the letter reads.

"At a time when family budgets are under great stress and many parents have stopped working to care for their children, enlarging the child credit would offer much needed relief. We believe that an additional, fully-refundable CTC of $2,000 should be issued in the fall of 2020 to all American families."

The signers also called for a second EITC in the fall of 2020, recommending that Congress should base this second EITC on 2019 earnings because of widespread unemployment in 2020, and recommended that the IRS minimize the "marriage penalty" associated with the EITC by setting a higher income threshold for married workers.

For couples earning the current EITC, marriage penalties can apply in some cases, such as when a working single parent marries another working person, thus raising their income and making them ineligible for a larger tax credit.

About 1.3 million workers filed for unemployment insurance for the first time last week, bringing the total number of unemployed people in the US to 32 million, or around 11%.

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