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During the recession, Congress, as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), increased the value of the maximum SNAP benefit 13.6 percent, and expanded the reach of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) by lowering the CTC’s refundability income limit from over $12,000 to $3,000, reducing the EITC marriage penalty, and increasing the EITC for families with three or more children.
The Urban Institute found these changes substantially decreased child poverty in 2010. Without the SNAP benefit boost, child SPM poverty would have been 7.6 percent higher, with 831,000 more children in poverty. Without the SNAP increase and the CTC and EITC changes, child poverty would have been 14.2 percent higher, and 1.55 million additional children would have been poor. Despite the fact that child poverty in 2013 was 11 percent higher than before the recession, Congress terminated the SNAP benefit increase in November 2013. Unless Congress takes action, the changes to the CTC and the EITC will expire at the end of 2017.