President Bush has signed his $350 billion tax cut bill, but the arguments over what should and should not have been included in the bill rage on.
Democrats anxious to gain ground with their constituency of low-income workers and some moderate Republicans are asking for additional legislation that will make the Child Tax Credit a refundable credit for workers who don't earn enough income to actually pay any income tax.
Olympia Snowe (R-ME), a Republican Senator who voted against the bill, argues that not giving low-income people a refundable tax credit for their dependent children is, in effect, "penalizing low-income working families."
Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), contends that a non-refundable tax credit "leaves behind millions of children from working-poor families."
White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer countered that the point of the tax cut bill was to "deliver tax relief to the people who pay income taxes," not to "go above and beyond the forgiving of all income taxes, and you actually get a check back from the government for more than you ever owed in income taxes."
The Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 (JGTRRA) provides for an increase in the Child Tax Credit from $600 to $1,000 per qualifying child. The IRS will mail rebate checks this summer to 25 million families who, based on information in their 2002 income tax returns, appear to qualify for the additional $400 per child tax credit.
Because the President has already signed the current tax bill, any decision to expand the Child Tax Credit provisions to make the credit a refundable credit for those taxpayers who don't pay any income tax would require new legislation.
An attempt at new tax legislation this year might not be welcomed in Washington. "The [JGTRRA] bill is over and done for $350 billion, and I don't want to spend another dime," said Senator George V. Voinovich (R-OH).