Evaluating Legislation

justabill2-300x230It is often difficult to evaluate legislation to determine its true purpose:

  • The title of a bill is often misleading
  • The purpose of the bill may be misstated
  • The text of the bill may not be clear.

Here is an example:

H.R. 4935, the Child Tax Credit Improvement Act


The title of H.R. 4935 is misleading.

H.R. 4935 does nothing to improve the Child Tax Credit for those who need it most.

H.R. 4935 raises the upper limit on the amount of money families can make in order to qualify for the Child Tax Credit. Under this bill, the value of the tax credit is enhanced for families with high incomes. This legislation does nothing for those who need it the most.

The purpose of H.R. 4935 is misstated.

“To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to make improvements to the child tax credit.” What the bill actually does is to increase the upper income limit for the Child Tax Credit.

The text of the bill isn’t clear.

H.R. 4935 states:

(a) Elimination of Marriage Penalty.–Section 24(b)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by striking “means–” and all that follows and inserting “means $75,000 (twice such amount in the case of a joint return).

Table I below compares the income limits specified by H.R. 4935 with current law.

Current  H.R.4935
 Single  $75,000  $75,000
 Married  $110,000  $150,000
 Married filing separately  $55,000  $75,000

Table I –Income limit for full Child Tax Credit

H.R. 4935 purports to eliminate a marriage penalty, but this is false. The value of the Child Tax Credit to a family properly should depend on the number of children rather than the number of parents. This bill attempts to extend a tax benefit to the relatively well-to-do.

H.R. 4935 fails to extend an important tax provision that improved the benefit of the tax credit for lower income families. That provision expires in 2017 and is not addressed in this bill. If this provision does expire, a single parent working full time making minimum wage would not be eligible for any portion of this tax credit.

© William Hungerford – November 2014







About whungerford

* Contributor at NewNY23rd.com where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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1 Response to Evaluating Legislation

  1. Deb Meeker says:

    Thank you. Clarification such as the above, helps me very much. Reading bills’ convoluted “legislation speak” is often such a turn off to me, I give up trying to understand it.


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