Part of me thinks the Democratic lawmakers in Congress, mostly progressives, who have begun pressing the Biden administration to authorize yet another round of stimulus checks — a fourth wave of payments, following those that stemmed from the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill that Biden signed into law in early March — didn’t fully read the text of that previous legislation.
If they had, they would certainly have realized there are so many more economic benefits to be found in the legislation that will help American taxpayers beyond the simple, one-time $1,400 stimulus checks that got an outsized share of attention. For example, an expansion of the federal tax credit made possible by that legislation is going to give families $3,600 in new stimulus checks over the course of a year. Meantime, there are still other benefits that working families can receive from the stimulus law — on top of the $1,400 stimulus checks, plus the $3,600 benefit that we just mentioned.
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What we’re referring to is something that’s escaped much coverage in the media. It’s an expansion of the Child and Dependent Care Credit, and the fact that not enough people likely know about this benefit is a shame because it’s even more lucrative than the one-time stimulus checks, as well as the $3,600 stemming from the child tax credit expansion.
Here’s how the folks at the personal finance site Nerdwallet explain it: Basically, for the 2021 tax year only, ” the Child and Dependent Care Credit can get you up to 50% of up to $8,000 of child care and similar costs for a child under 13, a spouse or parent who cannot care for themselves, or another dependent so that you can work (and up to $16,000 of expenses for two or more dependents).” Said another way, if you have two or more eligible dependents, a working family that meets the income requirements could get up to an $8,000 tax credit — again, just for this year.
The full details of the credit and how it works are available to peruse here. One thing worth noting is that the rules and eligibility look a bit complicated, to my non-accountant eyes, which might explain why there’s not been too much media coverage about the credit even though it will greatly help some working families. However, pulling back from the specifics for a moment, putting this tax credit into the bigger picture also reveals something else pretty important:
According to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, which is an official entity that helps Congress with various forecasts, the mix of credits included in the March stimulus law, in aggregate, will end up cutting taxes for people who aren’t rich far more than President Trump’s much-touted tax legislation did in 2017. In fact, Politico notes, new estimates show that tax-related benefits like all these we mentioned above mean that people who make less than $100,000 should end up paying almost no federal income taxes this year, once the benefits offset anything they owe.
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