Millions of U.S. families begin to receive Child Tax Credit payments

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By Sergio Mata-Cisneros and Eli Ferrell

Last month, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sent out the first round of monthly payments of the expanded Child Tax Credit to roughly 35 million families across the country.

These monthly payments will help reduce child poverty by nearly half and advance racial equity significantly. There has not been any single policy like this in decades that will reduce poverty and hunger among our nation’s children.

The American Rescue Plan passed earlier this year included this one-year expansion of the Child Tax Credit. It increased the credit to $3,600 per year per child ages 0-5 and $3,000 per year for children ages 6-17 for a year. So, families are receiving monthly payments of $300 per month for a child under five and $250 per month for each older child.

Families will continue receiving these payments each month, but the payments will stop in December if Congress fails to extend the credit. Currently, families will need to file their taxes in 2022 to get the other half of the credit.

These monthly payments are providing critical support to families to help pay for essentials like food, housing, transportation, and health care. According to an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, child tax credit recipients have used their monthly payments to buy groceries and pay bills while others have set the payment aside for future educational expenses.

As a result, single parents have been able to do away with a second job, previously preventing them from seeing their children in the evenings. Others, particularly women, have entered the workforce, able to afford childcare for the first time. 

For the Child Tax Credit to have the impact of reducing poverty and hunger in half, it must reach every eligible family. At Bread for the World, we remain concerned about families who are not receiving the monthly payments because they have not filed their taxes and as result may be facing food insecurity.

Earlier this summer, the IRS opened a non-filer online portal so families who have not filed can claim the credit. In addition, Bread, alongside other faith organizations, hosted a national webinar on how families could sign up for their monthly payments using the portal.

Right now, Congress is considering two significant pieces of infrastructure legislation. In one of the packages, they are proposing extending the Child Tax Credit. So, now is the time to advocate for a permanent expansion of the Child Tax Credit.

Letting the Child Tax Credit fizzle out in December would be a tremendous blow to our progress thus far to cut poverty and hunger. Instead, what we accomplish in the next few weeks will benefit children and families for decades to come.

Sergio Mata-Cisneros is a domestic policy analyst and Eli Ferrell is a domestic policy intern at Bread for the World.

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