Across the country, more calls for an expanded Child Tax Credit
For the past few months, Voices for Human Needs has reported on renewed efforts throughout the U.S. to urge Congress to once again expand the Child Tax Credit. As Congress rushes to complete its work before year’s end, the expansion efforts have increased in volume and urgency.
Over the past weeks, CHN has worked in an additional seven states with local leaders, children’s advocates and frontline service providers to explain to the public the tremendous need and rationale for an expanded CTC.
In a story headlined, “Illinois Child Advocates Demand Action on Renewing CTC Expansion,” Illinois News Connection interviewed Mitch Lifson, Vice President for Public Policy at the Chicago-based Children’s Advocates for Change. Lifson said there is ample evidence the direct tax payments uplifted families and stimulated the economy.
“If you compare the numbers of children under the age of 18, there were 85,000 fewer in poverty, and that’s a 30% reduction,” Lifson told the news outlet. “There’s no question that it has had a benefit to children in the state of Illinois, as well as across the country.”
Many activists said they are frustrated because while Congress drags its feet on the Child Tax Credit, lawmakers are contemplating tax cuts for major corporations, which some Republicans say is needed to keep the economy out of recession.
Lifson argued families believe if Congress restores billions of tax dollars to businesses, they should also reinstate the Child Tax Credit. He told the news outlet that statistics show allowing the tax credit to lapse put many working Illinois families back into the financial hole from which they had just escaped. He added now, they have been hurt even more by inflation.
“The 12-month CPI is 7.7 percent,” Lifson told Illinois News Connection. “Energy prices have increased by 17.6 percent, and food by almost 11 percent. But we’ve now removed that economic assistance for these families and the economic security.”
In a story headline, “Florida Groups Add Momentum to Extending Tax Credit,” Florida News Connection interviewed Alyssa Delgado, Community Prosperity Manager for the group Catalyst Miami, which provides health and financial coaching. Delgado said her data shows it is time for a field goal to keep the tax credit.
“A large majority of our clients that are eligible for the CTC chose to receive it early,” Delgado pointed out. “As a result, they’ve been able to make better financial decisions, better planning. They’ve been able to kind of follow through with certain things or debts that they had to repay.”
Delgado told Florida News Connection that just as corporations look to offset rising costs, the same things are happening to families.
“You now have an increase in stable income essentially, right?” Delgado observed. “This increase in stable income is going to help offset some of these rising costs and the expenses that are just coming up as a result of living in the state that we do.”
In a story headlined, “Utahns Call on Congress to Extend Tax Credit,” Utah News Connection interviewed Clint Cottam, Executive Director of the Community Action Partnership of Utah. Cottam said they know the tax credit was a big help to Utah families in 2021, and want to see it continue.
“If people are stable, if parents know that they can make it, I believe they are doing to show up to work more productive,” Cottam contended.
According to the Coalition on Human Needs, nearly half of Utah adults with children said they found it difficult to pay household bills in the month of October, and one in three said they did not purchase basic needs so they could pay their energy bills.
In Utah, 151,000 children under the age of 17 were not granted the $2,000 per child credit because their parent did not earn enough. Cottam pointed out they would like to see some of the restrictions in the law reduced or eliminated, so families have access to all the funds available.
Cottam acknowledged being a parent is hard work and barriers preventing a child’s development and prohibiting economic security make the already challenging job more difficult. “I believe it is important to invest in our human capital,” Cottam told the news outlet. “Our economy is stronger when human capital is stronger. These are our future workers. These are our future innovators. These are our future contributors to our economy.”
In a story headlined, “PA Group Urges Congress to Expand Child Ta Credit,” Keystone State News Connection interviewed Marc Stier, Director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center. Stier said the Child Tax Credit reduced poverty for 5.3 million people. He argued policymakers have the power to help address childhood poverty again and thinks Congress should not pass corporate tax breaks unless it also expands tax credits for families.
“We’re telling Congress people that they ought to make a deal,” Stier told Keystone. “We’re not crazy about some of those corporate tax cuts. Well, if we’re going to give tax cuts to billionaires, we ought to be giving help to the poorest kids in our country, and that’s a deal we can live with. And it’s a deal they should include in the budget negotiations this month.”
When it was in effect, the expanded Child Tax Credit provided monthly payments of $250 to $300 per child to families, depending on the child’s age. Without the expanded program, an estimated 627,000 kids in Pennsylvania missed out on the full credit.
Stier noted since Congress allowed the child tax credit expansion to lapse, child poverty in the Keystone State has risen by 40 percent and the number of people who do not always have enough to eat increased by 25 percent. He said families are struggling to pay their bills without the expansion of the credit.
“We’re hearing from parents who are having trouble heating their homes, having trouble paying for food, having trouble paying for child care, so they can actually go out into the workforce,” Stier observed. “A little extra money a month, which we give to upper middle-class families making $400,000 a year, we certainly can give that to low-income families as well.”
In a story headlined, “Indiana Child Advocates Demand Action on Renewing Child Tax Credit,” Indiana News Service interviewed Sarah Kumfer Director of Public Policy and Advocacy for the Indianapolis-based Marion County Commission on Youth. Kumfer said the fact that lawmakers allowed the program to lapse demonstrates that child poverty is a policy choice.
“Since the child tax credit expansion expired in December 2021,” she said, “the proportion of people in Indiana with children reporting that they sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in the previous week rose to 16.7 percent in October of this year.”
Kumfer said youth advocates are frustrated as lawmakers stall on renewing the Child Tax Credit while at the same time contemplating an extension of the 2017 Tax Cuts Act for corporations and high-income individuals.
Kumfer told the news outlet that her agency and other advocates believe if lawmakers can give billions of dollars in tax breaks to businesses, they have a moral obligation to reinstate the Child Tax Credit payments.
“We really want to encourage our senators, when making these decisions on determining who gets tax breaks and who gets tax credits and whatnot, that children and families should always be first above businesses,” she said.
When families receive extra money and their needs are being met, Kumfer said, it gives their children the opportunity to thrive. “Once these basic needs are met, people are able to then focus on contributing and being able to give back more to the community,” she said. “They aren’t able to do that if they’re worried about how to put food on the table and feed their families and feed themselves.”