Breaking: The CTC expansion has arrived, and there is much to celebrate
During the recent congressional recess, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) traversed his state, speaking with families about the new Child Tax Credit expansion, which beginning Thursday, July 15 will see nearly 39 million households each month receive an extra $300 per child age 5 or under and $250 per child age 6 through 17.
A mother told Brown that because she now will be able to afford child care, she is returning to work full time. Another mother said she is going to save for her daughter’s future education. A father said he is sending his boy to summer camp for the first time ever. And another parent said their daughter will now be able to play fast-pitch softball because the family can afford to purchase the equipment, for the first time.
“We provide the dollars and they make the choice as to what’s best for their families,” Brown said. “If you have three children, and two are under 6, and one is 10, you’ll get $300 plus $300 plus $250, you’ll get $850 a month and you’ll be able to figure out… Is that to help me pay rent so I can make rent this month? Is it to send their kids to camp? Is it to put some money aside so they can go to St. Clair Community College or Ohio State University? It’s those decisions parents will make.”
For about 90 percent of the 39 million families (including 65 million children) who qualify, the new benefit begins hitting people’s bank accounts via direct deposit today, or in their mail boxes via snail mail very soon. Other families who did not file income taxes for 2019 or 2020 because their incomes were too low or did not receive the last rounds of stimulus checks will have to file to receive the new benefit. The IRS has established an easy-to-use portal for filing; you can access it here.
On Wednesday, six congressional champions of the Child Tax Credit expansion, known informally as the “CTC 6,” came together for a Facebook Live event to celebrate the expansion and urge that it be made permanent. Besides Brown, the six included Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), and Ritchie Torres (D-NY).
They were joined by Reshonna Booker, a Seattle mother and member of MomsRising, who is studying to be a teacher. Reshonna and her husband had their first child right in the midst of the pandemic – on Juneteenth, 2020. Since then, they have struggled.
“The extra money will mean so much for my family,” Reshonna said. “It will go straight to diapers, food, baby food, rent, and bills…I’m especially glad that they recognized the extra costs that come with having children under 5 years old. And I really hope that lawmakers make this credit permanent. After all, raising kids is incredibly expensive, even when there is no pandemic. My family will need these funds even as my son continues to grow.”
Rep. DeLauro, Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee and a person credited for being one of the fiercest advocates for the CTC expansion, said today is a day worth celebrating. “How life-changing! Families are dealing with extraordinary expenses – food, child care, diapers, health care, and clothing,” she said.
Many speakers warned, however, that the CTC expansion is temporary; it only runs through the current year. “Now, I raised two kids and I think we all know kids don’t grow up in one year or in five years,” said Rep. DelBene. “And that’s why all of us on this call are committed to making this expansion permanent.”
Rep. Torres called the CTC expansion “the most transformational investment in children and families in the history of the United States. It will be to the 21st Century what Social Security was to the 20th Century.”
Torres said the “unsung heroes of the South Bronx, which I represent, are mostly women of color for whom the CTC is both a game-changer and a life-saver – a life-saver for mothers who can finally serve their children three meals a day, for mothers who no longer have to depend on abusive intimate partners for survival, for mothers who can begin paying down their rent arrears that have accumulated during COVID-19. Give families the tools to succeed and more families will succeed – it’s that simple.”
Sen. Bennet noted that before he arrived at the U.S. Senate, he served as a Superintendent for Denver Public Schools. “Most of the students lived in poverty and many of their parents worked two or three jobs and no matter what they did, they couldn’t get their kids out of poverty,” he said.
Experts say the CTC expansion alone will reduce child poverty in the U.S. by almost 50 percent. Coupled with other aid, such as nutrition and housing assistance, and the child poverty rate could be reduced by more than 50 percent, they say.
“This is the biggest investment in kids, families, and the middle class since Lyndon Johnson was President over 50 years ago,” Bennet said. “It’s the most progressive change to the tax code ever and it’s the single biggest blow to child poverty in America’s history.”
Sen. Booker said the United States is “one of the worst nations, of wealthy, developed nations, when it comes to investing in our children, especially in their early years. And the reason why that is such a self-inflicted wound is because dollars invested in evidence-based policies produce a multiple return.”
“This policy is profound in its impact,” Sen. Booker concluded. “This is a glorious day and we must make sure that this year, almost everyone who is eligible, over 90 percent of American families, get this resource to help their children flourish.”
The Coalition on Human Needs has been working for years alongside many organizations to expand the Child Tax Credit. Viewing the CTC 6 Congressional champions, Deborah Weinstein, CHN’s Executive Director, said “Investing in all our children is not only the obligation one generation owes to the next, it is the best way to secure our future. This extra stability for families will help children thrive, progress in school and share their talents and strengths throughout their lives. We pledge to work with these Congressional champions to make this historic advance permanent.”