The Reduced US Child Tax Credit: Paltry and Shameful

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The site, whose mission is to “provide trustworthy, transparent information to prove or disprove” stories or claims, gives us the bad news for American families regarding the Child Tax Credit: “The American Rescue Plan only expanded the child tax credit for the 2021 tax year. That means the credit has returned to its pre-pandemic amount for the 2022 tax year. Under the American Rescue Plan, parents or guardians who met certain qualifications could get a tax credit of $3,600 for children 5 and under, and $3,000 for children ages 6 to 17. The child tax credit had previously been $2,000 per child.”

In addition, “Families can claim the full $2,000 child tax credit when filing their 2022 return, but only up to $1,500 of the credit is refundable. . . That means the child tax credit can reduce what you owe in taxes to zero, but if you don’t owe anything, you can only get up to $1,500 back as a refund. The increased credit under the American Rescue Plan was fully refundable.”

According to, “A $2,500 child benefit in the US would cut the level of children in poverty by a third. Upping the benefit to $4,000 per month would drastically cut [the] poverty rate to just 10%.” There is little chance that any kind of increase is in the offing.

This development is very sad commentary on how the US has reverted to a status quo that basically fails our families as compared to many of our sister nations.

  • In Denmark, parents receive the equivalent of over $670 per quarter per child until the child is 18 years old.
  • The Swedish government provides its parents $136 a month per child.
  • Similarly, in Norway, citizens receive money quarterly per child until the child is 18 years old.
  • In Luxembourg, the family allowance, “which is intended to cover education and some living costs until a child either finishes schooling or turns 25,” amounts to approximately $324 per child per month. This increases by about $24 at age six and $61 when the child reaches 12.

As might be expected, amounts and conditions around family benefits throughout Europe differ. However, per EU regulations, all countries offer some family benefits. Some Europeans receive regular payments, while others receive their benefits through tax rules. And it is not only European countries that offer monetary child benefits: we can also look to Canada, Australia, Israel, and New Zealand.

No matter what the amount, how the benefits are paid, or whether the rates are higher or lower than what we offer Americans, our sister nations – by law – must provide paid parental leave, paid sick leave, paid vacation leave, and free or low-cost health care for all. In other words, Europeans and citizens of other advanced democracies already support their people more than we support ours. This lack of support in the US (the richest country in the world?!) leads to a range of negative results, as we have noted earlier.

If other nations to which we compare ourselves – our allies on many vital fronts – can consistently, over decades, truly support their citizens, why is it so difficult for us? Why do so many Americans, and their (mainly Republican) elected officials, refuse to pass legislation that would truly help millions of us in significant ways? What explains this uniquely American stubbornness: a reluctance to believe certain facts? callousness? differing sets of values and mindsets? perhaps even cruelty on the parts of some?

Whatever the reason/s, those among us who care about families and the health and well-being of the majority of Americans have no option but to “keep on keepin’ on:” there is too much at stake to give up.