Tax extenders this year can be split into three rough groups: expiring parts of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), expiring parts of various COVID-19 economic relief packages, and the Island of Misfit Extenders.
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The persistently high inflation in recent months has made some lawmakers question the need for additional deficit spending, In the short term, the Build Back Better Act would likely contribute to inflation, but the magnitude of that contribution is unclear.
President Biden expanded and fundamentally changed the Child Tax Credit (CTC) for one year in the American Rescue Plan (ARP) passed in March 2021. Policymakers are now deciding the future of the expansion as part of the proposed reconciliation package, but a wide range of estimates for the effects of a permanent expansion is confusing the debate.
Over the next ten years, the structure of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) is scheduled to change, complicating efforts to extend enhanced CTC benefits or reform the CTC for the long-term. Rather than take an all-or-nothing approach or kick the can down the road by relying on temporary expansions, lawmakers could consider alternative options that better target low-income households, retain work incentives, reduce the impact on federal revenue, and provide taxpayers with a stable, consistent tax code.
Temporary policy creates uncertainty for taxpayers and scheduling more expirations will add to the already-expiring provisions under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017.
According to the Tax Policy Center, an estimated 60 percent of U.S. households paid no income tax in 2020, up from around 43 percent of households in 2019.
New Treasury Department data released on the advance Child Tax Credit payments shows the distribution by state, including how much, on average, households in each state received. The expansion will only be in effect for the 2021 tax year—if policymakers wish to continue providing the increased benefits, they must address the administrative and revenue costs of the policy.
Amidst the outstanding questions, potential confusion over how advanced child tax credit payments will affect tax refunds, and an incomplete portal to update taxpayer information, the IRS will begin sending payments to millions of households this month.
Expanding the generosity of tax credits for lower-income individuals can help make the tax code more progressive, but it also reduces federal revenue. Pairing a credit expansion with a tax offset may sustain federal revenue but can also hamper economic growth.
Taxes are once again at the forefront of the public policy debate as legislators grapple with how to fund new infrastructure spending, among other priorities. Our tax tracker helps you stay up-to-date as new tax plans emerge from the Biden administration and Congress.