JUNEAU – An expanded federal tax credit program that has paid tens of thousands of Alaskan families up to $ 300 per child per month since July will expire Friday after Congress fails to pass the law Build Back Better Act.
All three members of the Alaska Congressional delegation opposed the Build Back Better legislation, which was supported by Democrats, but Republican U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski said she was willing to consider expanding the credit. child tax if it became a stand-alone bill.
By 2022, said Murkowski in an end-of-year interview that she expects Democrats to relaunch elements of Build Back Better as targeted initiatives. The bill was narrowly passed by the House, but died in the Senate after U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, said he would oppose it and no Republican has come out against it. opposite.
Overall, Murkowski said, she did not support the bill. “I think Joe Manchin gave the country a gift (…) when he said he was not going to support the Democrats’ initiative,” she said.
But on the expanded child tax credit specifically, Murkowski said she may be open to negotiations.
“If anyone wants to ask me to sit down with them and talk about – is there a way we can work on an expanded child tax credit that we can pay that will help families, I would say , absoutely. Let me sit down and talk and see what we can do, ”Murkowski said.
A spokesperson for Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, said the congressman, a former teacher, may also be interested.
As President Biden’s partisan COVID relief bill and his rushed social infrastructure bill were drafted, the congressman made it clear that some of the policies they contained were worth considering. However, he continues to believe that cramming dozens of partisan political priorities into one bill to pass now to read later is bad governance and even worse public policy, ”said Zack Brown, director of communications. de Young.
A spokesperson for US Senator Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, was more equivocal.
“Senator Sullivan has supported helping hard-working families through the Child Tax Credit, which was doubled by Republicans in Congress and President Trump in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017,” said the spokesperson. However, Biden’s reckless tax and spending plan, also known as Build Better, has so much going on – which would actually result in billions of dollars in new social spending – that it’s hard to assess a child tax credit proposal in the context of this comprehensive, complicated and seriously flawed legislation.
Adopted as part of the US bailout in March, the enlarged child tax credit program increased the existing federal credit per child from $ 2,000 per child to $ 3,000 per child for children over 6 and from $ 2,000 to $ 3,600 for children under that age, and increased the age limit for receiving any credit from 16 to 17. Parents were eligible for full credit if they earned less than $ 150,000 as a couple or $ 112,500 as a single parent.
In Alaska, approximately 84,000 families were eligible for the expanded child tax credit, according to a White House fact sheet. An estimated 35 million families in the United States received the monthly payments, the last of which came out on December 15.
Tax credits normally only matter during tax season, but parents may have received the credit in monthly installments instead. Eligibility was based on the 2019 and 2020 tax returns they filed, and any parent who didn’t collect the payments can still claim the credit when they file their taxes in the new year.
Without passage by Congress, the advance payments end and the child tax credit program reverts to a lower amount.
Trevor Storrs, president and CEO of the Alaska Children’s Trust, said without formal studies it’s really hard to assess the impact credit has had in Alaska, but he thinks there is no doubt that it has been good.
“What we do know is that with the child tax credit, it has helped many of our families who live in the upper brackets or on the brink of poverty, to get out of this situation or prevent them from falling into poverty, ”he said.
More money in a household means less stress for families trying to pay their bills, and “we know from the work of the Children’s Trust that when there is more stress in the family … it exposes children are at greater risk of experiencing some level of childhood abuse and neglect.
The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the demand for assistance provided by Catholic social services, said communications and development officer Tricia Teasley, and the organization has not seen that demand slow down over the course of the year. past year, she said.
The St. Francis House Food Pantry, Alaska’s largest, went from monthly help to weekly help for families after the pandemic began, and it still provides help to 910 families per month, she declared.
At the Alaska Public Assistance Division, a state official said their child care program has not seen significant changes in demand.
Murkowski plans to work on VAWA, funding fisheries research and advancing the Willow project.
Thinking back to 2021, Murkowski said, “It wasn’t a good year. We started with January 6, and then we went into impeachment proceedings. We are still facing COVID. We just had a debacle with Afghanistan. We are seeing unprecedented inflation in this country. It really hasn’t been that great in a year.
She also described some of the accomplishments of the past year, including the new National Infrastructure Bill and legislation that allowed international cruise ships to sail to Southeast Alaska and bypass the Canada in 2021.
In the first quarter of 2022, Murkowski said she would introduce a bipartisan bill to re-authorize the violence against women law, work to increase funding for fisheries research, and do whatever she can to move the agenda forward. development of the Willow oil project on the north slope. .