TANF-ACF-IM-2012-02 (Upcoming rulemaking for new TANF requirements specified in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-96))

Publication Date: April 12, 2012


States and Territories Administering the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program


Upcoming rulemaking for new TANF requirements specified in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-96)


P.L. 112-96, Sections 402, 408 and 409 of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. 617


To inform States and Territories of the upcoming rulemaking process associated with the new TANF requirements outlined in P.L. 112-96


On February 22, 2012, President Obama signed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-96), which among its provisions, requires States receiving TANF grants “to maintain policies and practices as necessary to prevent assistance provided under the State program funded under this part from being used in any electronic benefit transfer transaction in any liquor store; any casino, gambling casino, or gaming establishment; or any retail establishment which provides adult-oriented entertainment in which performers disrobe or perform in an unclothed state for entertainment.”

The legislation imposes a new reporting requirement, as well as a new penalty and a modification to State plans. Each State is required to report to the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) by February 22, 2014 its implementation of policies and practices required by the law. ACF is required to reduce a State’s block grant if the State fails to comply with this reporting requirement or if, based on the information that the State reports, ACF finds that the State has not implemented and maintained the required policies and practices. Furthermore, States are required to include in their State plans a statement outlining how they intend to implement policies and procedures to prevent access to assistance through electronic benefit transfer transactions in an automated teller machine or point-of-sale device located in casinos, liquor stores, and retail establishments which provide adult-oriented entertainment. The State plan must also include an explanation of how the State plans to ensure that (1) recipients of the assistance have adequate access to their cash assistance, and (2) recipients of assistance have access to using or withdrawing assistance with minimal fees or charges, including an opportunity to access assistance with no fee or charges, and are provided information on applicable fees and surcharges that apply to electronic fund transactions involving the assistance, and that such information is made publicly available.

ACF intends to initiate a rulemaking process to amend the TANF regulations at 45 C.F.R. Parts 262 and 265. ACF will publish for comment a proposed rule relating to the law’s new requirements. 


The statute at 42 U.S.C. 617 limits the authority of the Federal government to regulate State conduct or enforce the TANF provisions of the Social Security Act, except as expressly provided. We have interpreted this provision to allow us to regulate where Congress has charged ACF with enforcing certain TANF provisions by assessing penalties.

Because Section 4004 of P.L. 112-96 includes a new TANF penalty, ACF plans on releasing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in order to regulate the new reporting requirement and related penalty specified in the legislation. Once the NPRM is published, there will be a 60-day public comment period, after which ACF will review all comments received and draft a final rule. The final rule will be published in the Federal Register and will include a summary of the comments and responses to the comments, as well as any changes that are made to the proposed regulation as a result of the comments.

Because States have a range of systems for disbursement of assistance, and a number of questions have arisen regarding the applicability and requirements of the statutory language, ACF also intends to make use of a Request for Public Comment, which will be published within the next two weeks the Federal Register, to invite States and any interested persons to provide information that could help to inform the rulemaking process. 


Inquiries should be directed to the appropriate Regional TANF Program Manager.


Earl S. Johnson
Office of Family Assistance



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