Vol. XXXIV No. 2

Heal the Suffering Children: Fifty Years After the Declaration of War on Poverty

Abstract: Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared the War on Poverty. Since then, the federal tax code has been a fundamental tool in providing financial assistance to poor working families. Even today, however, thirty-two million children live in families that cannot support basic living expenses, and sixteen million of those live in extreme poverty. This Article navigates the confusing requirements of an array of child-related tax benefits including the dependency exemption deduction, head of household filing status, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Child Tax Credit. Specifically, this Article explores how altering the definition of a qualifying child across these tax benefits might provide financial relief for working families. The Article concludes that the elimination of outdated citizenship or residency requirements would reduce taxpayer confusion and result in more effective tax benefits to help lift working families out of poverty.

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