Respect Poverty

Future of child tax credit payments appear bleak as Biden doubts future of the program

Story at a glance

  • President Joe Biden spoked on Wednesday at a press conference on the eve of his one-year mark as president.
  • Biden said he was “not sure” if his child tax credit program would make it into his final Build Back Better legislation.
  • The program began distributing funds to qualifying families in July and sent out its final payment in December, keeping 3.7 million children from falling into poverty.

The U.S. made monumental strides in monthly poverty rates as it rolled out an expanded child tax credit program last year as a COVID-19 relief measure, but President Biden poured cold water on hopes that the program would be extended so families could continue receiving much needed financial support. 

Speaking on the eve of his one-year mark as president, Biden touted the progress his administration has made since assuming office, including a nearly 40 percent drop in child poverty rates. A big driver of that decline was his expansion of the child tax credit program, which increased benefit levels, expanded the eligibility for families with the lowest incomes and paid out benefits in monthly installments.  

The program began distributing funds in July and sent out its final payment to families in December 2021. Biden hoped to include a five-year extension of the child tax credit program within his Build Back Better legislation, but on Wednesday he confirmed that may not be possible. 

Biden said he was, “not sure,” the program could get into his package, despite being an area he cared a great deal about. 

“They are massive things that I’ve run on, I care a great deal about, and I’m going to keep coming back at it,” said Biden.  


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The results of the child tax credit program were significant, as an analysis by Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy found it kept 3.7 million U.S. children from poverty. Without the child tax credit in January, the center estimated child poverty for the month would shoot up to about 17 percent. 

As of December 2021, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) paid out six months of advanced child tax credit payments worth up to $250 per child between the ages of 6 to 17 and up to $300 per child under the age of 6.   

Growing up in poverty causes lasting harm, with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noting that poverty can bring unstable housing, frequent moves, inadequate nutrition and high family stress. All of that can often take a heavy toll on children, leading to lower levels of educational attainment, lower earnings, higher likelihood of getting arrested and poor health in adulthood.  

Free community college was another issue Biden level set expectations for, indicating that was an area that he wasn’t sure he could pass within Build Back Better. It’s a concept Biden campaigned on, proposing two years of free community college that would help ease the barriers to higher education and student loan debt. 

“I think we can break the package up, get as much as we can now and come back and fight for the rest of it,” said Biden. 


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