The Child Tax Credit (CTC) is one of the largest safety net programs in the United States. Introduced with bipartisan support in 1997, the program has since grown from a $500 per child credit in 1997 to—as of December 2021—a $3,600 allowance. This expansion has been both lauded and criticized in equal measure. Some economists, lawmakers and policy experts argue the expansion—and the CTC program more broadly—is a timely tool for combating child poverty; others argue that in its current form, the CTC does little to alleviate poverty. Given that the fate of an expanded CTC remains uncertain, a candid conversation about the program, its costs, benefits and pathways toward meaningful reform is due.

This event coincides with the release of our report on the CTC, its history, legislative changes and distributional impact. The report broadly documents consistent and clear inequities in benefits realization. We propose pathways to rectify this inequity while preserving the work requirement.

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