Fairness Sought In Child Tax Credit Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Representative Sanford Bishop called on the U.S. House Wednesday (10/1) to accept the Senate version of a bill to increase the child tax credit because he says it represents “tax fairness that is at the very core of what we in Congress do to improve the lives of Americans.”
The Second District Congressman supported a motion to instruct a joint conference committee, which is trying to resolve the differences between the separate House and Senate versions of the bill, to adopt the key Senate provisions that would ensure that military and low income working families would not be denied the relief provided to other families. Under the House version, he pointed out, many lower income families and families of personnel deployed in Iraq would not share in the increased child tax credit. He voted against the House version, saying it was fundamentally unfair to many families.
Although the House voted 219-207 against instructing the conferees, Representative Bishop said he would continue to urge the conference committee to ensure fairness in any compromise it reaches over the Child Tax Credit Bill.
Rising on the House floor, the Georgia lawmaker made the following statement:
“Tax relief and tax fairness are at the very core of what we in Congress do here in Washington to improve the lives of Americans in each and every community across the nation.
“Mr. Speaker, let me take a moment to recognize the bipartisan work of the United States Senate who have already voted 94 to 2 to provide Americans with real and meaningful tax relief in the form of a Child Tax Credit. The Senate knew that this was the right thing to do and they made no bones about coming together for hard working American families. In fact, the President of the United States, through his press secretary, said we ought to pass this legislation - legislation that has been held hostage in this House by the Republican leadership for 111 days. This is wrong, Mr. Speaker, and it ought not happen in America. Because tax relief for American families - a real Child Tax Credit - is not a Democrat issue or Republican issue - it’s about our children.
“The relief it provides is targeted to parents who need it the most - those earning between about $10,000-$26,000 a year - about 6.5 million families and 12 million children (8 million children would receive no benefit at all and another 4 million would receive only partial benefit) await relief while the Republican leadership in the House stalls on this bill.
“The House version of the Child Tax Credit also short-changes our servicemen and women, and particularly those putting their lives on the line in Iraq. The House Republican leadership insisted that the calculation of the allowable Child Tax Credit be based on “taxable income” (that is, wages in excess of personal exemptions and deduction) rather than “total earned income.” This accounting gimmick adversely affects our military personnel who are in combat, because while in combat, their pay is not treated as taxable income. For example, a stateside grade E-6 serviceman or woman earning $29,000 a year supporting a spouse and two children would enjoy the full $1000 Child Tax Credit for each of their two children. But if that service member was deployed to Iraq for as much as eight months, he or she could lose the entire Child Tax Credit! That’s because 2/3 of his or her income would not be taxable, and the remaining 1/3 would fall below the $10,500 threshold at which the refundable portion of the Child Tax Credit begins to be calculated. In fact, some 260,000 children (one in five children of the military) in 200,000 active duty military families would be left out of this unfair House version, while the Senate version avoided this problem entirely.
“Last month the census released new figures showing that the number of families and children living below the poverty line rose by 1.3 million last year, 1.3 million more families than last year. Times are tough. They need help, Mr. Speaker, and they need it now. I’d like to say that help is on the way, but truth be told, Mr. Speaker, our fiscal priorities are not in touch with reality.
“A recent House Budget Committee staff analysis (September 23, 2003) reveals that the true cost of the war in Iraq and the post-war reconstruction effort will be more than $178 billion and could exceed $400 billion during the period 2003 to 2013. That’s big money. Who pays that bill, Mr. Speaker? Hard working Americans, and the families and servicemen and women who have been disproportionately disadvantaged by the unfair tax policy in America today.
“In May of this year this House passed a tax cut, Mr. Speaker, despite the mounting deficit and exorbitant costs of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, I’m a big supporter of tax relief, but that last round of ‘tax cuts’ excluded the full benefit for most working Americans, and was fiscally irresponsible.
“We have before us today an opportunity to level the playing field for most American families. I hope that we will.”