New Video from Reimagining Tax Administration: Social Programs Through the Tax Code

Dear Friends,

We’ve uploaded to the Center’s youtube channel a new video from our free online workshop series, Reimagining Tax Administration: Social Programs Through the Tax Code.   We have three more sessions to go – Monday November 1, 8, and 15.  You can register for the series here.


This new video is of the panel on Program Eligibility Rules for the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Other Anti-Poverty Programs, held on 25 October 2021.  In the United States, 40 percent of all benefit payments for children come through the tax code, dwarfing all other sources of funding.  Some of the tax provisions are means-tested, some have a work requirement, some have a support test.  The eligibility requirements are fairly rigid, based on the traditional concept of the nuclear family.  And because tax benefits generally are paid out on an annual basis, retroactively at return filing, the benefits are not received when the funds are needed.  Moreover, the eligibility requirements do not necessarily track who is caring for the child at a given point during the year.  This leads to confusion and erroneous claims for tax credits.

Right now the United States is in the midst of a grand experiment in which, for six months,  the IRS is required to make on monthly basis an advance payment of the Child Tax Credit (CTC).  Because under recent legislation this credit is fully refundable, including to persons who have no income or so little income as to be below the filing threshold, it is estimated that the expanded CTC will cut child poverty in the U.S. by half.  But bringing this new population into the tax system raises a whole new set of problems.

In this workshop, panelists discuss these issues, as well as eligibility rules for family based benefits in other US social benefits systems and for family based tax credits in other countries.  The session explores the consequence of classifying overclaims for these credits as “improper payments,” which creates a distorted focus on these payments vis a vis other components of the tax gap.  And we discuss the political reasons these credits are run through the tax system in the first place, and how the eligibility rules could be modified to better reflect how families actually live their lives.

The moderator and panelists for this workshop session are:

Moderator: Margot Crandall-Hollick, Congressional Research Service, Washington DC


  • Chye-Ching Huang & Kathleen Bryant, NYU Tax Law Center, New York NY
  • Elena Fowlkes, Taxpayer Advocate, District of Columbia Office of Tax & Revenue, Washington DC
  • Cathy Livingston, Jones Day, Washington DC
  • Elaine Maag, Tax Policy Center, Washington DC
  • Emily Lin, U.S. Department of Treasury, Washington DC

I hope you will watch this important video.  I have spent decades working in this field of taxation, and the caliber of discussion in this session is the best I’ve heard.

All the best,


Nina E. Olson
Executive Director