Fact Check: Does Biden's COVID-19 Relief Plan Penalize Single Parents?

President Joe Biden's COVID-19 stimulus plan is headed to the House floor as soon as Friday, and both sides of the Congressional aisle are grappling over the $1.9 trillion relief bill.

While Republicans represent most of the opposition, which has won popularity with the American public, some Democratic lawmakers have their own objections to the bill's provisions.

The Claim

Representative Katie Porter (D-Calif.) appeared on CNN on Thursday to discuss her criticisms of the child tax credit improvements under the evolving stimulus package, which she said puts two-parent households at an unfair advantage.

Porter, who is a single mother, and nine other lawmakers also explained in a letter to the Chairman Richard Neal of the Ways and Means Committee that as it stands, the legislation puts undo income restrictions on single-parent families.

Kids shouldn’t get less nutritious food or less secure housing just because their parent isn’t married. As I told @PoppyHarlowCNN, Congress needs to drop the #SingleParentPenalty in the proposed child tax credit. pic.twitter.com/U52dLoQwql

— Rep. Katie Porter (@RepKatiePorter) February 25, 2021

The Facts

In addition to $1,400 stimulus checks and a $15 an hour minimum wage, one of the biggest bonuses for Americans under the new stimulus bill is a substantial expansion of what families with children can claim on their taxes.

Known as the Child Tax Credit (CTC), families currently can claim up to $2,000 for each child under 17 who is a citizen. If the credit exceeds the amount of taxes owed, then families can receive a $1,400 refund per child, according to the Tax Policy Center.

This credit is reduced by 5 percent for two-parent households earning more than $400,000 per year, but single parents face the same reduction for half that adjusted gross income. The expansion would increase the CTC to $3,600 for children up to 6 years old and to $3,000 for children up to 17.

There’s no discount for being a single parent (trust me, I know). So, single parents shouldn’t face stricter income limitations than married parents in qualifying for the child tax credit. @RepPressley and I are urging @WaysMeansCmte to drop the #singleparentpenalty ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/Ox7idPQvtA

— Rep. Katie Porter (@RepKatiePorter) February 13, 2021

What's more, rather than claim the credit when filing tax returns, families will receive monthly payouts from the government similar to stimulus checks. Institutions like the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities are hailing the proposed expansion as a win for families that would lift an estimated 10 million children above the poverty line.

But much like the current CTC, one- and two-parent families are placed under different income restrictions in Biden's plan. Single parents cannot earn more than $75,000 a year to qualify for this credit, while two-parent families can still receive the claim up to $150,000 a year.

The Ruling


The CTC still imposes lower income restrictions on single parents under Biden's stimulus plan. Two-parent households earning up to $150,000 a year qualify for the credit, but single parents must not earn more than $75,000.

Rep. Katie Porter
Representative Katie Porter (D-Calif.) said in an interview Thursday that President Joe Biden's COVID-19 relief plan does not benefit single parents equally to married parents. Porter speaks as other House Democrats listen during an event at the Rayburn Room of the U.S. Capitol on December 19, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong/Getty Images