Improvements to the federal Child Tax Credit would help the families of about 155,000 Oregon children, according to advocates who today called on U.S. Senators Gordon Smith and Ron Wyden to back the proposed changes.
The Child Tax Credit — which provides up to $1,000 to qualifying households — is leaving behind low-income families whose wages fail to keep pace with inflation, because the credit’s income eligibility threshold is tied to the rate of inflation, according to Janet Bauer, policy analyst with the Oregon Center for Public Policy.
“Precisely those families who need the Child Tax Credit the most are becoming ineligible or receiving shrinking tax benefits under current law,” said Bauer, citing the impact of stagnant wages and rising inflation. “Oregon children are looking to Senators Wyden and Smith to help fix the problem.”
To expand Child Tax Credit eligibility for low-income families, the U.S. House of Representatives recently adopted legislation that would lower the income threshold from the current level of $12,050 to $8,500.
The House bill would help the families of approximately 35,000 Oregon children who would otherwise be ineligible for the tax credit and would provide an increased tax benefit to the families of an additional 120,000 children in Oregon, said Bauer.
Today, a coalition of 13 organizations in Oregon that advocate on behalf of low-income workers and children sent a letter to Senators Gordon Smith and Ron Wyden seeking their support of legislation in the Senate that helps as many families as the House-approved bill.
The letter notes that both Oregon senators voted recently for legislation that would have improved eligibility for the Child Tax Credit as part of broader tax legislation.
That legislation, however, failed to clear a filibuster by Republican senators, according to Bauer.
“Our senators have shown their commitment to improving the Child Tax Credit for hard-working families,” Bauer said. “We now need them to lead the Senate in adopting legislation as strong as the House version.”
The debate over the Child Tax Credit comes at a time when the Senate faces two other important pieces of tax legislation: an adjustment to the Alternative Minimum Tax to shield middle- and upper-middle-income earners from paying higher taxes and an extension of tax credits for business research and development.
“As the Senate considers help for middle- and upper-middle-income Americans and businesses,” said Bauer, “it should make sure not to leave behind struggling families with children.”
The organizations signing the letter to Senators Smith and Wyden are: CAUSA, Children First for Oregon, Community Action Partnership of Oregon, Disability Rights Oregon, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, Oregon Center for Christian Values, Oregon Center for Public Policy, Oregon Developmental Disabilities Coalition, Oregon Hunger Relief Task Force, Oregon Opportunity Network, Oregon Rural Health Coalition, Partnership to End Poverty and Rural Organizing Project.
The Oregon Center for Public Policy is a non-partisan research institute that does in-depth research and analysis on budget, tax and economic issues. The Center’s goal is to improve decision making and generate more opportunities for all Oregonians.