I.R.S. urges taxpayers not to amend already-filed returns to take new tax break.

Taxpayers who already filed their 2020 returns should not amend them to take advantage of tax breaks that were created by the new $1.9 trillion pandemic relief legislation, the Internal Revenue Service commissioner, Charles Rettig, told lawmakers on Thursday, saying that the I.R.S. would automatically send refunds to those who qualify.

Mr. Rettig, speaking at a congressional hearing, was referring to a provision in the law that provides a tax exemption on the first $10,200 of jobless benefits collected in 2020 by unemployed workers whose households earned less than $150,000.

“We believe that we will be able to automatically issue refunds associated with the $10,200,” Mr. Rettig said.

According to The Century Foundation, about 40 million Americans received unemployment insurance last year.

from April 15 to May 17, to give itself and taxpayers more time to handle returns and refunds.

The Treasury Department and the I.R.S. are also racing to develop new regulations and update systems to reflect other aspects of the March relief law.

Treasury officials said at a briefing on Thursday that they are working with the I.R.S. to develop a new online portal to disburse advance payments for the expanded Child Tax Credit, which will provide up to $3,600 per child under age 6 and $3,000 for children ages 6 to 17, regardless of whether a family earns enough to pay income taxes.

The portal will allow taxpayers to upload relevant data for midyear payment adjustments, such as the birth of a child, the officials said.

Treasury officials also said the department is working on additional guidance on how states can use money included in the relief law. That will include clarity about how states must repay relief funds if they decide to cut taxes after receiving aid.

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How Shifting Politics Re-energized the Fight Against Poverty

WASHINGTON — A quarter-century ago, a Democratic president celebrated “the end of welfare as we know it,” challenging the poor to exercise “independence” and espousing balanced budgets and smaller government.

The Democratic Party capped a march in the opposite direction this week.

Its first major legislative act under President Biden was a deficit-financed, $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” filled with programs as broad as expanded aid to nearly every family with children and as targeted as payments to Black farmers. While providing an array of benefits to the middle class, it is also a poverty-fighting initiative of potentially historic proportions, delivering more immediate cash assistance to families at the bottom of the income scale than any federal legislation since at least the New Deal.

Behind that shift is a realignment of economic, political and social forces, some decades in the making and others accelerated by the pandemic, that enabled a rapid advance in progressive priorities.

Rising inequality and stagnant incomes over much of the past two decades left a growing share of Americans — of all races, in conservative states and liberal ones, in inner cities and small towns — concerned about making ends meet. New research documented the long-term damage from child poverty.

economic equity at the forefront of the new administration’s agenda.

Whether the new law is a one-off culmination of those forces, or a down payment on even more ambitious efforts to address the nation’s challenges of poverty and opportunity, will be a defining battle for Democrats in the Biden era.

broadly popular with voters, an intensified focus on worker struggles on both the left and the right, including Republicans’ increasing efforts to define themselves as a party of the working class, has scrambled the politics of economic policy across the ideological spectrum.

prominent conservatives have welcomed the antipoverty provisions, applauding them as pro-family even though they violate core tenets of the Republican Party’s decades-long position that government aid is a disincentive to work.

Many Republicans from conservative-leaning states have turned increased attention to growing social problems in their own backyards, in the middle of an opioid crisis and economic stagnation that has left rural Americans with higher poverty rates than urban Americans, particularly for children.

An emerging strain of conservatism, often supported by a new generation of economic thinkers, has embraced expanded spending for families with children, to help lower-income workers and, in some cases, to encourage families to have more children. The conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt celebrated the expanded child credit in a series of Twitter posts on Friday, urging parents to use the proceeds to send their children to parochial school, and said he would work to make them permanent.

nearly six million children out of poverty, “came to be part of the package because families that earn in the bottom third of the income distribution, or at least of the wage distribution, have been disproportionately hurt by the pandemic,” said Cecilia Rouse, the chairwoman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Democrats and poverty researchers began laying the groundwork for many of those provisions years ago, amid economic changes that exposed holes in the safety net. When a 2015 book by Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, “$2.00 a Day,” argued that rising numbers of families spent months with virtually no cash income, Mr. Brown arranged for all his Democratic Senate colleagues to receive a copy.

At the same time, many scholars shifted their focus from whether government benefits discouraged parents from working to whether the vagaries of a low-wage labor market left parents with adequate money to raise a child.

A growing body of academic research, which Obama administration officials began to herald shortly before leaving office, showed that a large proportion of children spent part of their childhood below the poverty line and that even short episodes of poverty left children less likely to prosper as adults. A landmark report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in 2019 found that aid programs left children better off.

“That allowed us to change the conversation,” away from the dangers of dependency “to the good these programs do,” said Hilary W. Hoynes, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who served on the committee that wrote the report.

cut child poverty from prepandemic levels among whites by 39 percent, Latinos by 45 percent and African-Americans by 52 percent.

“Covid exposed the fissures of systemic racism and systemic poverty that already existed,” said the Rev. William J. Barber II, who helps run the Poor People’s Campaign, an effort to get the needy more involved in electoral politics. “It forced a deeper conversation about poverty and wages in this country.”

White House officials and Democratic leaders in Congress say Mr. Biden’s rescue plan has now changed that conversation, creating momentum for permanent expansions of many of its antipoverty efforts. Multiple researchers project the bill will cut child poverty in half this year.

Democrats say they will turn that into an argument against Republicans who might oppose making the benefits permanent. “You’re voting for doubling the child poverty rate — you’re going to do that?” Mr. Brown said.

In selling the plan, Mr. Biden has blurred the lines between the poor and the middle class, treating them less as distinct groups with separate problems than as overlapping and shifting populations of people who were struggling with economic insecurity even before the pandemic. Last week, he at once talked of “millions of people out of work through no fault of their own” and cited the benefits his plan would bring to families with annual incomes of $100,000.

“This is part of why I think it is more transformational,” said Brian Deese, who heads Mr. Biden’s National Economic Council. “This is not just a targeted antipoverty program.”

In coming months, Democrats will face significant hurdles in making provisions like the child benefit permanent, including pressure from fiscal hawks to offset them by raising taxes or cutting other spending.

But the swift passage of even the temporary provisions has left many antipoverty experts delighted.

“A year ago, I would have said it was a pipe dream,” said Stacy Taylor, who tracks poverty policy for Fresh EBT by Propel, a phone application used by millions of food stamp recipients. “I can’t believe we’re going to have a guaranteed income for families with children.”

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Which Families Will Receive the Most Money From the Stimulus Bill?

The Covid-19 relief legislation signed by President Biden on Thursday includes a larger increase in direct aid to families than in any other pandemic relief bills passed so far — an average of $6,660 for households with children, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

estimates, the bill could cut child poverty in half this year.

The bill accomplishes this in primarily two ways: a significant increase in stimulus payments per child, and a larger child tax credit that will benefit the lowest-income families in particular.

The coming stimulus checks are larger for adults than in the first two rounds — $1,400 per adult, compared with $1,200 per adult in a bill passed in March 2020 and $600 per adult in December. The same income thresholds apply for receiving the full amount: $75,000 for singles, $112,500 for heads of households and $150,000 for married couples, though the check amounts phase out much faster for earners above those levels.

The biggest increase is for children and other dependents. In the first two rounds, taxpayers received $500 and then $600 for each dependent child. This round includes $1,400 for each dependent child and adult dependent, which includes college students.

And unlike in previous rounds of stimulus, the child tax credit has been increased. It is now worth $3,600 per child under 5 and $3,000 per older child, from $2,000 per child. Low-income families will benefit the most, because they will now be eligible for the full amount, even if their tax liability is very low.

Previously, parents could deduct the $2,000-per-child credit from their tax liability. If they did not pay that much in taxes, they could be eligible to receive up to $1,400 as a refundable credit. Now, all parents will receive the full amount, with half of the value of the credit issued in advance beginning in July.

Income thresholds for the full child tax credit are the same as for the stimulus payments. The credits fully phase out for unmarried taxpayers earning $240,000 or more, and for married couples earning $440,000.

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Your Wednesday Briefing

The military and its brutal practices have been on the global stage since a coup last month. The generals are now fully back in charge, and the Tatmadaw, as the military is known, has turned its guns on the masses, who have mounted a nationwide civil disobedience movement.

But the military has a long legacy of atrocities that has instilled an omnipresent fear in Myanmar.

During the last three years, the Tatmadaw has waged war against ethnic rebel armies in three states, Rakhine, Shan and Kachin, displacing 700,000 Rohingya Muslims. Survivors and witnesses described to us the campaign, which has included killings, systemic rape and abuse. Men and boys were often used as human shields by the soldiers.

In October, Sayedul Amin, a 28-year-old Rohingya man, was fishing when he and others were rounded up by soldiers. “We were ordered to walk in front of the soldiers,” he said. “It seems that they wanted us to shield them if anyone attacked.” He was hit by two bullets.

Quotable: “This is an army with a heart of darkness,” said David Scott Mathieson, an independent analyst. “This is an unrepentant institution.”

reports the BBC.


the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:


neglected electric cars while dominating the global market for gasoline-electric hybrids. Automakers around the world are making bold pledges to transition to electric fleets, and national governments are issuing mandates to increase electric-car sales or to ban gasoline-burning vehicles. Japan’s auto industry could be left behind.

Power player: Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota and chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, has accused the Japanese news media of inflating the commercial and environmental value of all-electric vehicles. His company, which is the worldwide leader in hybrid car sales, sets the tone for the industry. Toyota is also heavily invested in clean-burning hydrogen, a technology that has yet to go mainstream.

our correspondent writes.

Prince Harry has often spoken with anguish about what happened to his mother when she was cast out of the royal family after her divorce from Prince Charles and later died in a car wreck. He made an explicit comparison during the bombshell interview on Sunday when he referred to the “constant barrage” of criticism and racist attacks on his wife.

Royal family: Buckingham Palace issued a statement on Tuesday in response to an explosive interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, saying the family was “saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been” for the couple. The queen said the issues raised were “very concerning” and would be addressed by the family.

Catalonian crisis: The European Parliament has stripped the immunity of Carles Puigdemont, the former separatist leader of Catalonia, clearing the way for another attempt by Spain to extradite and try him on sedition charges. Now it is up to the Belgian judiciary to rule on sending him back.

many have come to make a new start — and they even saved the school from closing.

Atlantic article about how the internet doesn’t have to be terrible.

creamy braised white beans are simmered with milk, a whole head of garlic, herbs and nutmeg for a rich vegetarian dinner that can be on the table in under a half-hour.

Watch: A romance between a refugee and an escaped child bride is at the heart of the animated film “Bombay Rose.”

Listen: At the 63rd annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, there will be no shortage of big-name matchups in the major categories. Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and Dua Lipa dominate the nominations.

For a fascinating book or a fabulous recipe, turn to our At Home collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch, and do while staying safe at home.

Last month, Apple TV+ released “Billie: The World’s a Little Blurry,” a documentary depicting the rise of the singer Billie Eilish and the creation of her Grammy-winning debut album. It follows other recent documentaries about pop stars including Justin Bieber, Beyoncé and the girl group Blackpink.

The artists or their labels helped produce all of these films, which promise an unvarnished glimpse into the lives of the performers. That’s not quite what they deliver.

long used documentaries to manage their images, even when the production team is technically independent. Music labels are often involved in the documentaries, in part because “directors have little choice: films about musicians need music, and licensing can be prohibitively expensive,” Danny Funt writes in the Columbia Journalism Review.

Perhaps the best way to approach celebrity documentaries is to enjoy them for what they are: carefully constructed entertainment. In Eilish’s case, the documentary often feels “almost observational, like a nature film,” The Times critic Jon Caramanica writes in a review. Still, he says, “there is never anything other than a sense of safety in this footage.”

As Simran Hans writes in The Guardian, “Artists continue to utilize the documentary form as a shorthand for truth — but that truth is still another construction.”


That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Melina


Thank you
Whet Moser, Carole Landry and Amelia Nierenberg contributed to today’s briefing. Sanam Yar wrote the Back Story. Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about a provision in the U.S. relief bill that would offer a child tax credit.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Dominant personality (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Our Beirut bureau chief Ben Hubbard joined Christiane Amanpour on PBS to discuss U.S.-Saudi Arabia relations.

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Child Tax Credit, Proposed in Stimulus, Advances an Effort Years in the Making

Welfare critics warn the country is retreating from success. Child poverty reached a new low before the pandemic, and opponents say a child allowance could reverse that trend by reducing incentives to work. About 10 million children are poor by a government definition that varies with family size and local cost of living. (A typical family of four with income below about $28,000 is considered poor.)

“Why are Republicans asleep at the switch?” wrote Mickey Kaus, whose antiwelfare writings influenced the 1990s debate. He has urged Republicans to run ads in conservative states with Democratic senators, attacking them for supporting “a new welfare dole.”

Under Mr. Biden’s plan, a nonworking mother with three young children could receive $10,800 a year, plus food stamps and Medicaid — too little to prosper but enough, critics fear, to erode a commitment to work and marriage. Scott Winship of the conservative American Enterprise Institute wrote that the new benefit creates “a very real risk of encouraging more single parenthood and more no-worker families.”

But a child allowance differs from traditional aid in ways that appeal to some on the right. Libertarians like that it frees parents to use the money as they choose, unlike targeted aid such as food stamps. Proponents of higher birthrates say a child allowance could help arrest a decline in fertility. Social conservatives note that it benefits stay-at-home parents, who are bypassed by work-oriented programs like child care.

And supporters argue that it has fewer work disincentives than traditional aid, which quickly falls as earnings climb. Under the Democrats’ plan, full benefits extend to single parents with incomes of $112,500 and couples with $150,000.

Backlash could grow as the program’s sweep becomes clear. But Samuel Hammond, a proponent of child allowances at the center-right Niskanen Center, said the politics of aid had changed in ways that softened conservative resistance.

A quarter-century ago, debate focused on an urban underclass whose problems seemed to set them apart from a generally prospering society. They were disproportionately Black and Latino and mostly represented by Democrats. Now, insecurity has traveled up the economic ladder to a broader working class with similar problems, like underemployment, marital dissolution and drugs. Often white and rural, many are voters whom Republicans hope to court.

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