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Will child tax credit expansion be made permanent? Bennet thinks so

Colorado Democrat unsure how long it might take to get payments extended

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet said Monday that he’s confident the one-year expansion of the federal Child Tax Credit will be made permanent. But the Colorado Democrat conceded that he’s not sure when that will happen.

“The question is going to be how long will that take and how much fighting will there be,” he said during a virtual Colorado Sun event.

Payments began last week under the expansion, which was part of the American Rescue Plan, the massive coronavirus aid bill passed by congressional Democrats in March. Bennet has been pushing for the expanded credit for years and made it a key pillar of his unsuccessful 2020 presidential campaign.

Parents of children up to age 17 will receive between $3,000 and $3,600 in monthly installments under the policy change if they are a single filer making less than $112,500 or joint filers making less than $150,000. The credit decreases by $50 for every $1,000 in income parents make over that threshold.

The White House has floated extending the credit for four more years, through the 2025 tax year, as part of a $3.5 trillion budget bill Democrats are planning to push through the reconciliation process so they can avoid the 60-vote filibuster threshold in the Senate. Democrats have 50 seats in the chamber, which gives them a majority thanks to the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris.

But Bennet said the expansion through 2025 is not a given.

“It’s too early to tell whether that’s where it’s going to land,” he said. “From my vantage point, it is a matter of just trying to get it extended as long as we can.”

No Republican in Congress voted for the American Rescue Plan, and recently members of the GOP have become outspoken critics of the tax-credit expansion.

“No work required. Just free money on top of America’s existing safety net,” Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida recently wrote. “It’s all part of a pattern of President Biden spending recklessly on a liberal policy wish list, at risk to the economy.”

But Bennet pointed to Utah Sen. Mitt Romney’s support of a similar Child Tax Credit expansion as proof that there could be GOP support for the change.

“I think over time, what you’re going to see is that Republicans in Washington are going to come around and support this,” he said. “The reason I believe it will be permanent is that it is enormously popular with American people, and I think it will become even more that way. We’re going to fight very hard to get it done.”

Bennet defended the expanded tax credit against claims that it represents gluttonous government spending and that it doesn’t benefit people who don’t have children.

Bennet argued that slashing childhood poverty in half, as one study said the policy change would do, and preventing the related socioeconomic effects is essentially priceless compared with the expansion’s $110 billion cost.

“The poorest population in America are children,” he said. “Childhood poverty costs our country $1 trillion a year. I think all of us, as Americans, have a reason to not want childhood poverty to be a pertinent feature of our economy or a pertinent feature of our democracy and I think that our children ... should have a reasonable expectation that they are going to be born in a country that’s got childhood poverty rates that are more closely coupled to our economic competitors.”

Bennet said his staff members are working with about 100 organizations in Colorado to find people who could benefit from the expanded tax credit and help them access the benefit, especially those who do not file taxes with the IRS.

Those who don’t file taxes can visit the IRS’ website to check their eligibility or sign up.

The most secure way to receive a payment is through a bank account, said Wendy Ferrell, executive director of Denver Asset Building Coalition, a nonpartisan nonprofit. Ferrell and her team can help set up a bank account for free or at a low cost to help people access the benefit.

People can get assistance through Ferrell’s organization at www.denverabc.org.

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported, nonpartisan news organization dedicated to covering Colorado issues. To learn more, go to coloradosun.com.