Tuesday, September 28, 2021
Jacob Goldin (Stanford; Google Scholar) presents Whose Child is This? Improving Child-Claiming Rules in Safety Net Programs (with Ariel Jurow Kleiman (Loyola-L.A.; Google Scholar)) virtually at UC-Hastings today as part of its 2021 Tax Speaker Series hosted by Heather Field and Manoj Viswanathan:
To address the staggering problem of child poverty in the United States, Congress may soon enact a child allowance akin to those in other high-income countries. As lawmakers debate doing so, they must consider the design of rules that determine how benefits are distributed. Among the more important of these are “child-claiming” rules. These rules determine which adults can receive benefits for which children, driving how well a program helps recipients and satisfies public goals.
This Article critically assesses the design of child-claiming rules for safety net programs, using as case studies the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). It considers how best to design child-claiming rules to achieve specific program goals, the foremost of which is supporting children’s well-being. This analysis illustrates that no single rule regime dominates for any given goal or goals. Rather, policymakers compromise between important objectives such as channeling benefits to children’s caregivers and providing flexibility to claimants’ households. Informed by a principle-driven framework, the Article considers how best to navigate these difficult tradeoffs and proposes specific child-claiming rules under several different benefit structures.
It finishes with legislative and administrative considerations to assist policymakers to translate the proposed rules into law. The Article provides an analytical framework that can apply across safety net programs, as well as a brass-tacks policy playbook to inform rules that are both administrable and inclusive.