March 08, 2019

Duckworth, Durbin Join Bennet, Brown in Reintroducing Major Proposal to Cut Taxes for Families with Children


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) this week in reintroducing the American Family Act of 2019 to overhaul the existing Child Tax Credit and make it a dramatically more effective tool for supporting middle-class families with kids and reducing child poverty. The bill was introduced with 36 original Senate cosponsors and 174 original House cosponsors, with U.S. Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3) and Suzan DelBene (D-WA-1) introducing the legislation in the House, indicating a major show of support from across the Democratic Caucus.

“Working families deserve the opportunity to get ahead, but the increasing costs of raising a family have made it more and more difficult,” Duckworth said. “I’m proud to work with Senators Bennet and Brown to reintroduce the American Family Act to reduce child poverty by nearly 40 percent, help middle class families and invest in our children.”

“In Illinois, too many families are struggling to make ends meet, and because of that, children are growing up in poverty. We can be doing more to help those in need, which is why I introduced the American Family Act with Senator Duckworth,” Durbin said. “By expanding the Child Tax Credit, we can make a tangible change in the lives of millions of people. More money in their pockets, spent on essentials, can make the difference for a family trying to lift itself out of poverty. I support the American Family Act because children in Illinois deserve a future they can believe in.”

The bill would create a new $300 per-month, per-child credit for children under 6 years of age and a $250 per-month, per-child credit for children under 17 years of age—increasing the credit for all children and, for the first time, making the credit fully refundable.

“I’ve met with parents across Colorado who tell me the paychecks they bring home aren’t enough to support their families, especially as the costs of child care, health care, housing, and higher education continue to rise,” Bennet said. “That’s because 90 percent of Americans haven’t seen a significant raise over the last 40 years. The American Family Act is a big part of how we respond to that problem, which I see as one of the central economic challenges of our time. This bill also addresses a problem we don’t discuss enough—child poverty—by cutting it by 38 percent. I can think of nothing more at war with who we are as Americans than allowing kids to grow up in poverty. I’m hopeful today’s strong show of support will move us closer to signing the American Family Act into law, because for the families we represent, that day can’t come soon enough.”

“All across the country, families are working harder than ever but have less and less to show for it,” Brown said. “Our bill would help put more money back in the pockets of working families and set children up for future success.”

The American Family Act would expand the Child Tax Credit to incorporate the latest research about what works to improve outcomes for children. The Columbia University Center on Poverty and Social Policy recently released a report that found the American Family Act would cut child poverty by 38 percent.

Specifically, the legislation would:

  • Create a New Expanded Credit for Children under 6. The bill would create a new Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC) of $300 per month ($3,600 per year) for children under 6 years of age, up from the current maximum of $2,000 per year.
  • Increase the Maximum Child Tax Credit for All Children under 17. The bill would expand the Child Tax Credit (CTC) to $250 per month ($3,000 per year) for children 6 years of age or older, up from the current maximum of $2,000 per year.
  • Make Both Credits Fully Refundable. The bill would make both the YCTC and CTC fully refundable, meaning that all low-income families would receive the full credit for each child. The current CTC only begins to phase-in after a taxpayer has earned $2,500 of income and at a rate of 15 cents for every dollar of additional income. In addition, only $1,400 of the $2,000 credit is refundable. For these reasons, one-third of all children – 27 million – do not currently receive the full $2,000 CTC credit.
  • Benefit the Middle Class. The bill would provide a tax credit for all individuals with children who earn less than $150,000 per year and all married couples with children who earn less than $200,000 per year.
  • Index the Credit for Inflation. The bill would index both YCTC and CTC levels for inflation (rounding to the nearest $50) to preserve the value of the credit going forward. The current CTC is not indexed for inflation.
  • Set Up Advance Payments on a Monthly Basis. The bill would call on the Treasury Secretary to set up monthly advance payments for the YCTC and CTC no later than a year after passage for taxpayers anticipated to receive a refund. Monthly payments would smooth families’ incomes and spending levels over the course of a year, helping them make ends meet during difficult months.

The bill was introduced with 36 original Senate cosponsors and 174 original House cosponsors.

In addition to Duckwoth, Durbin, Bennet and Brown, the following Senators cosponsored the legislation:  Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Doug Jones (D-AL), Pat Leahy (D-VT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR)

The following organizations have endorsed the American Family Act: Center for American Progress, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Center for Law and Social Policy, Child Care Aware of America, Children’s Defense Fund, Community Change Action, Economic Security Project, First Focus, MomsRising, National Association for the Education of Young Children, National Women’s Law Center, Niskanen Center, Service Employees International Union, Zero and to Three.

The bill text is available here. A fact sheet is available here.