Tax Credits for Working Families

Setting the Record Straight on Santorum and the Child Tax Credit

January 12th, 2012

Reports from mainstream media outlets indicate that GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum is proposing tripling the Child Tax Credit as part of his tax agenda. (See: Washington Post,  Wall Street Journal, and Fiscal Times). However, it seems that these reports are confusing the Child Tax Credit with the personal exemption for dependent children. Both the candidate’s website and American Enterprise Institute, a conservative organization that is probably more familiar with the candidate, assert that Santorum has proposed tripling the dependent exemption, not the Child Tax Credit. The campaign website is silent about his Child Tax Credit proposal, while AEI and the Tax Policy Center indicate that he will retain both the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. If you’ve heard Rick Santorum express his support for tripling the Child Tax Credit at any point on the campaign trail, we’d love to hear from you. We would particularly welcome any reports that indicate whether Santorum has proposed tripling the expanded Child Tax Credit, which includes the temporary improvements to the credit that were enacted in 2001 and 2009 and are scheduled to expire at the end of 2012.

This distinction is significant, as the maximum Child Tax Credit would increase from $1,000 to $3,000 per child if the credit is tripled from its expanded level, or increase from only $500 to $1,500 if the credit is tripled without extending the expansions. And only high-income families would receive any benefit from the larger credit that Santorum is allegedly proposing if the expansions are allowed to expire at the end of the year, as the Child Tax Credit would actually be reduced or completely eliminated for low- and moderate-income working parents in 2013, despite the proposed increase to the credit.

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