Rubio in Good Position to Negotiate Inclusion of Improved Child Tax Credit in Final Tax Bill

Sonia Lindell
December 2017

A recent report by the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) rightly argues that the Rubio-Lee Child Tax Credit (CTC) amendment should be included in the final congressional tax bill.

Each house passed its own version of a $1.5 trillion tax plan that provides no real relief to hard working Americans struggling to make ends meet.

Congress, however, still has the opportunity to include language in the final bill that would improve the CTC for millions of low- and moderate-income working families by providing them with at least a small benefit. And it’s up to Senator Marco Rubio to lead that charge.

Both the U.S. Senate and House bills would provide a windfall for the super-wealthy and big business, delivering a disproportionate share of tax benefits to the top 1 percent of income earners and dropping the corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent. And although the maximum CTC is raised from $1,000 to $1,600 per child in the House legislation and to $2,000 per child in the Senate version, both bills cap the increase for lower-income working families. Higher-income families, on the other hand, would for the first time qualify for the full credit.

The Rubio-Lee amendment, which the Senate rejected, would reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 to 20.9 percent to finance an expanded CTC for struggling families. Under the proposal, parents would qualify for a credit refundable up to payroll tax liability (15.3 cents per dollar of earnings). CBPP provides the following example of how a lower-income household would receive a more meaningful benefit under the amendment:

“A single mother with two children who works full time at the federal minimum wage as a home health aide would receive a $494 CTC increase under the Rubio-Lee proposal, or $247 per child… [which is] more meaningful than the $75 she’d receive under the Senate bill (and the $0 she’d get under the House bill).”

Under the tax plan passed by the House, 586,000 children under age 17 from low-income, working families in Florida would be receive no benefit from the expanded CTC; in the Senate bill, these children would receive only a token CTC increase ($75 or less).

With the final tax bill expected to pass narrowly in the U.S. Senate, Rubio could use his vote as a bargaining chip and fight to include the CTC amendment in the final tax bill. If the language that he and Lee proposed is again rejected, Rubio must vote against the tax legislation.


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