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UW Expert: Child Tax Credit End Could Be 'Devastating' for WI Families

Young mother with baby going through bills while analyzing her home finances.
Drazen - stock.adobe.com
Young mother with baby going through bills while analyzing her home finances.

Wisconsin families may have received their last Child Tax Credit payment for a while, as Congress has missed its year-end deadline to pass President Joe Biden's Build Back Better framework.

The roughly $2 trillion package would have reauthorized the expanded Child Tax Credit through 2022. Parents received their last credit on Dec. 15, and Timothy Smeeding, professor of public affairs and economics at the University of Wisconsin Madison, said to get the rest of the aid, they'll need to file their income tax returns for 2021.

"So, there's still another $1,500 or $1,800, depending on how old the child is, that will come to them once they file their taxes this next spring," he said.

Through the program, parents received monthly payments that varied based on a child's age. Half of that money was held back, to be reimbursed after parents file their income taxes. According to U.S. Treasury data, 603,000 payments were made to Wisconsinites in November, totaling roughly $272 million.

In order to pass Build Back Better, Democrats will need to woo Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who torpedoed the legislation by pulling back his vote over the weekend. Smeeding said it's likely Dems will jettison some of the more expensive provisions to win back Manchin's vote. He added that if Congress fails to reach a deal soon, it could be a serious financial blow to Wisconsin families.

"That's going to be devastating to the families who've come to rely on it, if it ends next year," he said.

The Washington Post reported Manchin's counterproposal for Build Back Better excludes the expanded Child Tax Credit. If Congress passes the bill in January with the expanded credit intact, the White House has proposed doubling monthly payment amounts in February to make up for the lost month.

Jonah Chester is Wisconsin Public Radio's 2022-2023 Mike Simonson Memorial Investigative Reporting Fellow embedded in the Wisconsin Watch newsroom. He most recently worked at Public News Service, a national radio news service, where he covered Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. He previously produced the 6 O'Clock News at WORT 89.9 FM in Madison, where he won numerous awards from the Milwaukee Press Club and Wisconsin Broadcasters Association for his reporting on issues in Dane County and south-central Wisconsin.
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