On November 29th, the Niskanen Center held an event marking the 25th anniversary of the Child Tax Credit and the 35th anniversary of the commission that inspired its creation (recordings below). With the Child Tax Credit again at the forefront of discussions about how to support families, understanding the history of the credit and the ideas animating current reformers is essential to building a consensus around further improvements.

Renewing the agenda for children and families

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the National Commission on Children, informally known as the Rockefeller Commission. Against the backdrop of growing pressures on family life, Congress charged the bipartisan commission to develop a new agenda for children and families. Among its recommendations was the creation of a fully refundable Child Tax Credit. The nonrefundable Child Tax Credit was enacted in 1997 and temporarily made fully refundable in 2021 — an expansion Congress has not renewed.

Experts involved in the credit’s evolution will reflect on the commission’s charge and subsequent efforts to enhance the Child Tax Credit, including marriage penalties, work requirements, administrative complexity, and other challenges.

  • Josh McCabe, Senior Family Economic Policy Analyst, Niskanen Center (moderator)
  • Bob Greenstein, Visiting Fellow, the Brookings Institution (panelist)
  • Elaine Maag, Senior Fellow, Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center (panelist)
  • Eugene Steuerle, Richard B. Fisher Chair, Urban Institute (panelist)

Where the Child Tax Credit goes next

This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the introduction of the Child Tax Credit as part of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997. Passed with solid bipartisan support, the credit has grown beyond its original mission of providing tax relief and reducing poverty to becoming a central pillar of America’s family economic security. New voices will discuss the evolving nature of the credit, and the role it plays in promoting family stability, economic mobility, and more.

  • Samuel Hammond, Director of Social Policy, Niskanen Center (moderator)
  • Kelly Allen, Executive Director, West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy (panelist)
  • Rachel Anderson, Resident Fellow, Center for Public Justice (panelist)
  • Ramesh Ponnuru, Editor, National Review (panelist)