J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press
FILE - Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., right, accompanied by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, outline their ideas for a new tax plan during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 4, 2015. Doubling the child tax credit is key to Sen. Mike Lee going along with any tax reform plan Congress considers.

SALT LAKE CITY — Doubling the child tax credit is key to Sen. Mike Lee going along with any tax reform plan Congress considers.

Lee, R-Utah, and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., are pushing to increase the $1,000 credit to at least $2,000, and see it as a critical to getting tax relief to middle-income families.

The two senators also started talking to President Donald Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, about the issue in January. Over a series of meetings, Ivanka Trump, a White House adviser, has become an advocate for increasing the child tax credit, Lee said. She hit the road Monday to promote that aspect of the Republican tax reform proposal.

"She plays a pretty significant role in this administration. She certainly has the president's ear and has been involved in a lot of policy discussions, not only on tax issues but others as well," Lee said.

President Trump went to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for a closed-door meeting with Senate Republicans on proposed tax cuts. He later tweeted: "So nice being with Republican Senators today. Multiple standing ovations! Most are great people who want big Tax Cuts and success for U.S."

"I hope that the one thing we can rally around is whatever we do on taxes, it must include at least $2,000 per child on the tax credit and it must be applicable toward their payroll liability. If we don’t do that, there’s no way we can defend the middle-class tax cut," Rubio said Tuesday on KSL Newsradio's "The Doug Wright Show."

The Trump administration appears to support the child credit and it will "likely" be part of the GOP proposal, Lee said.

Taxpayers currently may claim a tax credit of up to $1,000 for each child under age 17. The credit is reduced by 5 percent of adjusted gross income over $75,000 for single parents and $110,000 for married couples. If the credit exceeds taxes owed, taxpayers can receive some or all of the balance as a refund.

Lee said the expanding credit would help offset the "devious, nasty" parent tax penalty. He said a Department of Agriculture study shows that it costs at least $700,000 to raise three children from birth to adulthood, and the tax code doesn't account for that.

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"It's a fairness issue. It's trying to undo some of the harsh and arguably punitive effects that the tax code has on not only people for getting married but on people who choose to have children," he said.

Rubio said some have benefitted from the improved economy, but others, including working families with children, have not because everything costs more now and their paychecks don't go as far.

Parents, he said, are not only raising children, but raising future taxpayers, and having to pay for it.

"The tax code needs to account for that. Apart from the economic argument it’s just a human argument of helping people keep more of their hard-earned money," Rubio said.