The House Ways and Means Committee passed a package of three bills Wednesday designed to save money for the federal government, including one that requires taxpayers claiming the Child Tax Credit to provide a Social Security number for the child to prevent undocumented immigrants from qualifying.
“Requiring Social Security numbers is a longstanding commonsense idea,” said Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, who sponsored the legislation. “This bill is about protecting Americans’ hard-earned taxpayer dollars. It’s time to stand up for the American taxpayer.”
Currently, the Child Tax Credit requires only an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN, for taxpayers claiming the credit. In contrast, taxpayers claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit are required to provide a valid Social Security number. This proposal would add a Social Security number requirement with respect to the refundable portion of the Child Tax Credit. The bill is estimated to save $4.8 billion over two years.
Another of the bills would require taxpayers who receive overpayments of subsidies for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act to repay the amount. “This is a simple bill,” said Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kansas, who sponsored the bill. “It is about good governance and our duty to protect the tax dollars of hardworking Americans … Under Obamacare, some taxpayers must repay this improper overpayment. But others don’t. They can simply pocket it. That’s not fair. That’s not good governance … And it is a failure of our role to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”
The third bill would end Social Services Block Grants to states. “This commonsense bill will help end an unaccountable Washington project that isn’t effectively serving the American people or helping more people get out of poverty,” said House Ways and Means Committee chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, who sponsored the bill. “Ending [SSBG] today continues our efforts to … ensure welfare programs are effectively helping low-income families.”
The so-called “savers” package of the three pieces of legislation is estimated to save a combined $16.5 billion over two years and a total of $98 billion over 10 years.
Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee objected to the measures. “The Republicans say that they are interested in addressing poverty,” said ranking member Sander Levin, D-Mich. “But they bring forth a package of bills that would cut or end programs that have kept millions of children, seniors, and Americans with disabilities out of poverty.”
Of the Child Tax Credit bill, he noted, “The proposal would end the refundable Child Tax Credit for 3 million children, almost all of whom are citizens with a parent or parents that are undocumented but paying taxes. This highlights so clearly the need for immigration reform, not the harsh rhetoric we hear from Republican presidential candidates or legislation punishing millions of American children.”
Democrats pointed out that the proposal would punish millions of U.S. citizen children living in low-income, immigrant families. In 2013, 90 percent of the children claimed for the refundable portion of the Child Tax Credit were U.S. citizens. The proposal would decrease the number of families receiving the refundable portion of the Child Tax Credit by 1.5 million and decrease the number of children receiving the credit by 3 million in 2016. Individuals working in the United States are required to pay taxes on their income, no matter what their immigration status, they noted. The refundable Child Tax Credit applies to working families and was created to protect children from poverty.
“HR 4722, which changes the rules for the Child Tax Credit, unfairly punishes U.S. citizen children of low-income, tax-filing immigrant families,” said Democratic Caucus chairman Xavier Becerra, D-Calif. “These families work, pay taxes, file their tax returns, and qualify for the CTC. If we wish to tackle a broken immigration system or the issue of fraud, let’s do so. But HR 4722 is not even a poor substitute for this purpose.”
Levin also criticized Republicans for the other two bills in the package regarding repayment of overpayments of Affordable Care Act health insurance subsidies and the elimination of block grants. “They say that they will come up with their alternative to the Affordable Care Act, but they never do,” he said. “Instead, they bring up a bill that would cause 250,000 Americans to lose their health insurance, and increasing financial uncertainty and costs for millions more. They say that they want to replace programs like Medicaid and SNAP with a block grant because they provide states more flexibility. But today they’re proposing eliminating the Social Services Block Grant, which helps provide critical services to nearly 30 million children, seniors and individuals with disabilities. It demonstrates their hypocrisy, and also how turning programs into block grants makes it easier to eventually cut them.”
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