Senators Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have released a proposal that builds upon the success of the child tax credit (CTC) to help working families all across the United States.
The Cassidy-Sinema proposal gives parents the option of advancing up to $5,000 from the CTC in the event of a birth or adoption of a child. This would allow parents to finance child care, time off from work, or other expenses incurred at the beginning of a child’s life.
Notably, the Cassidy-Sinema proposal does not raise taxes, endanger Social Security, or put costly mandates on employers to fund the new benefit. Instead, parents that claim the advanced credit receive an adjusted CTC of $1,500 over the next ten years. The $5,000 advance is completely optional, as parents can forgo the benefit if they already receive paid leave from their state or employer.
This plan builds off the success of the CTC, which is broadly popular amongst middle and low-income families. According to the most recent IRS data available, over 23 million families per year claim the CTC. The most recent reforms to the CTC were in the Republican-passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which doubled the credit from $1,000 to $2,000 and raised the phase-out threshold to $200,000 for single filers and $400,000 for joint filers. The law also made the CTC refundable up to $1,400, meaning that if the credit brings an individual’s tax liability below zero, the IRS will cut a check for $1,400.
Other plans for paid family leave do not strike the delicate balance of the Cassidy-Sinema proposal. The Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), would impose a 0.4 percent payroll tax on employers and employees that would only cover 15 percent of the bill’s $226.8 billion cost. Analysis from the American Action Forum shows that a new payroll tax as high as 2.9 percent would have to be implemented to fully fund the plan’s new benefits. The Gillibrand-DeLauro tax hikes would be especially devastating for small businesses that would be forced to cut staff or wages to comply with the new mandate.
The Cassidy-Sinema plan is a truly bipartisan proposal that builds on the success of an existing program without raising taxes, endangering entitlements, or imposing costly mandates on employers. The plan works within the existing framework to give families an important financial boost during one of the most costly periods of a child’s life.