While some in Congress are calling for a slow-down in passing the next bill, there is also the possibility the new installment of $320 billion in the loan program could run out rapidly depending on who you believe in their projections. In addition, the bill passed last Thursday does little to address state and local budget shortfalls.
Senate Majority Leader (R-KY) has been pushing back against more funding for states and, in some interviews, even suggested a state option might be to file for bankruptcy. With over 26 million people filing for unemployment over the past four weeks, he may not be able to withstand calls for more help.
On Tuesday, April 22, the governors re-stated their request for $500 billion more in state budget support as well as other items such as an additional increase in the Medicaid matching rate, an increase in the SNAP, TANF, SSBG and education funding. There are concerns on the part of local governments that they are not getting the needed support through some of the recent bills that have been enacted. As a result, a joint statement by the National Governors Association, Council of State Governments, National Conference of State Legislatures, National Association of Counties, National League of Cities, U.S. Conference of Mayors and the International City/County Management Association called for greater support, stating, “While the CARES Act allocated aid to states and local governments, governors and local leaders are in desperate need of additional assistance to protect the lives of citizens and re-open our economy.”
Other areas of need and concern revolve around people getting left out through the $1200 tax rebate program. Examples of this include foster and adoptive parents who may not be able to benefit from the child credit since it was based on 2018 and 2019 returns, youth living independently who may have been claimed by an adult caretaker on those 2018 or 2019 returns, foster parents who may have provided foster care for the entire year but not cared for one single child for more than 6 months in a tax year, and families involved in child support cases whereby the Treasury automatically withholds refunds that never get to either parent.
There is also the issue of child credits of $500 not awarded because the parent or caretaker missed an IRS deadline. According to the Center on Budget Policy and Priority, roughly 1 million children may miss out this year on the $500 stimulus payment their parents or guardians are supposed to receive if the parents or guardians didn’t complete an online IRS form by noon on Wednesday, April 22, 2020. As the Center points out, many Social Security beneficiaries and SSI recipients have children or are responsible for grandchildren and other relatives. Parents and guardians who miss the deadline can only receive the $500 next year, and to do so, they will have to file a full tax return for 2020, even if they do not usually file a return. This was a choice made by the Treasury Department through the IRS so they could potentially issue a change in policy.
In regard to the complexities of child support collection, The National Child Support Enforcement Association (NCSEA) adopted a policy last week urging Congress to enact a provision in a future COVID response bill to exclude any economic impact payments made to individuals owing past child support from being offset/captured by the IRS/ or states. The Association went on to say, “Most state and tribal child support programs understood the purpose of the payment was to provide immediate and necessary relief to individuals who may have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. They preferred that the payment be paid to each parent without being offset for past-due support, as the self-sufficiency of both parents was the immediate focus. However, there was limited opportunity to share that perspective with Congress prior to the enactment of the CARES Act.”
CWLA has sent recommendations and information to Congress regarding the COVID-19 impact on child welfare. The CWLA’s letter to Congressional leaders was developed based on conversations with large and small groups of members. We would like to also share this descriptive letter on the immediate needs that children and families need now. This is an evolving situation, and we will be providing additional input both formally and informally, so please continue to let us know the concerns you are facing in carrying out your missions.