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Alexis Leondis

If Congress Offers You This Tax Advance, Beware

What’s not to like about doling out the credit for children ahead of schedule? A lot, actually.

Wrong way.

Wrong way.

Photographer: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Sometimes economists suggest things that make sense in theory, but don't work in the real world. Take the child tax credit, which has been getting a lot of attention lately as lawmakers argue over how to expand its benefits in the pandemic-relief bill.

Congress is poised to offer families some of their credit payments in periodic advance checks instead of making them wait for their once-a-year tax refunds. The idea is to ease Covid-related economic pain and give the economy a boost. The reality? It could easily backfire.