Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton announced this week her plan to expand the Child Tax Credit for families with young children.
The Clinton plan would double the Child Tax Credit to up to $2,000 per child under five years of age and lower the threshold for claiming a refund from $3,000 in earnings to “the first dollar of earnings for families with children of all ages,” according to a statement from the campaign.
Secretary Clinton describes this plan as “a down payment” on support for poor and working families. She intends to provide benefits for working adults without children and for families with older children as well. The additional benefits will be paid for, Clinton says, by higher tax revenues from corporations and the richest taxpayers.
“Refundable tax credits like the Child Tax Credit reward work, lift families out of poverty, and improve lifelong outcomes for kids,” Clinton said. “Studies have shown that the Child Tax Credit helps lift millions of Americans out of poverty each year. Not only does the Child Tax Credit help fight poverty for families in the year that they qualify for the tax cut, its effects can be seen for many years later. Parents in families that receive refundable credits like the Child Tax Credit are more likely to be in the labor force and contribute to the economy. Children in those families do better in school, are more likely to go to college and earn more when they become adults.”
In Puerto Rico, the Child Tax Credit is only available to families with three or more children. Would Clinton’s plan change this limitation? The press release doesn’t answer this question, but Clinton’s previous position while in elective office offers a clue, as does a statement from her 2008 run for the presidency.
In 2005, while serving as U.S. Senator, Hillary Clinton introduced legislation to extend the Child Tax Credit to Puerto Rico. Clinton’s bill S. 1757, was referred to the Finance Committee and did not become law.
When she ran for President in 2008, her position paper on Puerto Rico explained that if she were to hold the nation’s highest office, she would “sign into law a bill that she sponsored in the last Congress which would extend payments based on payroll taxes to Puerto Rican workers with one child or two children — providing assistance equivalent to that provided to working families in the States. Current law only allows Puerto Rican working families with more than two children to claim this critical financial assistance.”
Puerto Rico’s level of child poverty is higher than that of any state.