: White House considers double-payments in February for child tax credit to make up for missed January payout
With the Senate stuck in its effort to pass President Joe Biden’s social-spending bill by year’s end, Democratic-run Washington is worried in particular about how the legislative gridlock is bringing an end to monthly child tax credit payments.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday said the Biden administration has “talked to Treasury officials and others about doing double-payments in February as an option,” if the Build Back Better Act passes in January. That would make up for a missed January CTC payout.
Separately, some Democratic lawmakers have been considering ways to secure an OK for just one part of the bill — an extension for the monthly CTC payments.
Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon told reporters on Wednesday that a number of his colleagues have asked if it would be “possible to look at a separate fix just for the child tax credit in order to ensure that those benefits go forward uninterrupted.”
“I have said our office — because we’ve got these skilled tax lawyers and people who’ve had to work on these issues — we are looking at all of the possibilities for how you might do it,” said Wyden, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee. “We feel very strongly that this is a benefit that needs to be continued without interruption.”
The monthly payments of up to $300 per child began on July 15 and have ended with the payout on Wednesday (Dec. 15), unless Washington delivers an extension so they keep coming on Jan. 15.
Providing a “separate fix” for the CTC payments before 2021 ends could be difficult for a range of reasons, including the fact that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi isn’t on board so far. The California Democrat indicated during a brief Wednesday that she prefers addressing the issue within the Build Back Better Act.
“I don’t want to let anybody off the hook on the BBB to say, ‘Well, we covered that one thing, so now the pressure is off.’ I think that that is really important leverage in the discussion on BBB — that the children and their families will suffer without that payment,” Pelosi told reporters.
The White House also has thrown cold water on the idea, pointing to the 60 votes in the 50-50 Senate that would be needed to bypass the filibuster. Meanwhile, the Build Back Better Act is slated to advance through a budget reconciliation process that only requires a simply majority.
“People have been asking us, ‘Would we support it being in a standalone?’” said Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House’s principal deputy press secretary, during a briefing on Thursday.
“The reality is you need 60 votes in the Senate. We do not have 60 votes in the Senate … to do that as a standalone, so we’re going to continue to make sure that we work with the Senate to really get Build Back Better done.”
Even if there isn’t an extension of the monthly payments, there is still another CTC boost coming for eligible families. That’s because March’s $1.9 trillion stimulus law, known as the American Rescue Plan Act, increased the CTC’s total amount to $3,600 for a child under age 6, or $3,000 for a kid aged 6 to 17, up from an earlier level of $2,000. Half of the credit has come through the six monthly payouts, but the other half (either $1,800 or $1,500) is slated to come in the new year at tax time.
That potentially gives families an incentive to file their 2021 returns as soon as the Internal Revenue Service starts accepting them. The IRS began processing 2020 returns in mid-February this year, after starting in late January in the prior year.
Full CTC payouts were slated to go to individuals making up to $75,000 and to joint filers making up to $150,000, with the payments phased out above those income levels. The Biden administration estimated that payments were going to about 39 million U.S. households, representing 88% of American families with kids.
This is an updated version of a story first published on Dec. 16, 2021.