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CO Lawmakers Debate Closing Gap in Child-Care Tax Credit

PHOTO: The Jimenez family of Denver is one of an estimated 55,000 households that aren't currently eligible for a state child-care tax credit. Colorado lawmakers are debating whether to close that gap. Photo courtesy De Jimenez.
PHOTO: The Jimenez family of Denver is one of an estimated 55,000 households that aren't currently eligible for a state child-care tax credit. Colorado lawmakers are debating whether to close that gap. Photo courtesy De Jimenez.
February 12, 2014

DENVER - Living on less than $25,000 a year, De Jimenez of Denver pays about $400 a month for child care for her daughter. Despite a lean budget and the financial demands of two other children, a glitch in the relationship between federal and state tax laws prevents her from receiving the state's child-care tax credit - while other Coloradans, making up to $60,000 a year, qualify.

Jimenez said a change in the state law would help a lot.

"When we have the money in our pocketbooks if something does go wrong - whether it's our car, whether we want to take our kid to a state park - by having that extra money come back, we can do those things and continue to put our families first," she said.

HB 1072, a bill known as the "Child-Care Tax Credit Fix," would make it possible for the state's poorest working families to claim the credit already available to other families. A legislative committee is expected to vote on the bill today.

The Colorado Center on Law and Policy estimates 55,000 Coloradans would be eligible for the child-care tax credit if the law is changed. Of those, more than 60 percent are single mothers such as Jimenez, who said the credit would be especially welcome during the costly winter months.

"This time of year, heaven forbid your child gets sick,” she said, “because then you've got to worry about making sure you've got enough money to pay for prescriptions and doctor's visits, and anything else that goes along with that."

Supporters of fixing the gap say it would help strengthen the state's economy, promote economic self-sufficiency and reduce poverty. Opponents of the "fix" say it would reduce much-needed state tax revenue.

The CCLP study is online at cclponline.org. The text of HB 1072 is at openstates.org.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - CO