Congressional Democrats can do better than extend the child tax credit to 2025
As of July 15, families in Philadelphia began receiving up to $ 300 per child in monthly payments through the newly expanded Child Tax Credit. Some Congressional Democrats are now pushing to extend the tax credit until 2025. We should make it permanent.
Working families in our city were able to use this extra money to put food on the table and pay rent amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to buy clothes and school supplies.
As the poorest large city in the country, Philadelphia has already started to dramatically reduce child poverty. The city has estimated that 75,000 people could be lifted out of poverty through this program. Across Pennsylvania, approximately 90% of children qualify for this benefit.
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While the child tax credit has been around since 1997, the US bailout plan championed by President Joe Biden to deal with the economic fallout caused by the pandemic contains a recently revamped version that reaches more families and is fully refundable – this which means families can get these essential resources even if they don’t owe taxes.
At the Workplace Families Campaign, our mission is to ensure that families use all the resources to which they are entitled to reduce the impact of poverty on our communities – and especially on our children.
We have seen first-hand how the expanded child tax credit is helping the families we serve achieve stability in very uncertain times and lessen the effects of poverty on children. Children who live below the poverty line are more likely to have problems in school, suffer from emotional problems, and even develop chronic diseases that affect the heart and lungs. These adverse effects can have a lifelong negative impact on a child’s outlook.
Thanks to the leadership of President Biden and our local congressmen Dwight Evans and Brendan Boyle, this expanded child tax credit has helped reduce the impacts of COVID-19 on the lives of children. Parents didn’t have to worry that employment disrupted by stay-at-home orders and social distancing requirements could spell disaster for their families.
However, the crisis facing children in our city will not abate even as immunization rates rise, as children return to school and businesses reopen.
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For too many families in Philadelphia, severe endemic poverty was a way of life even before the pandemic. Single mothers with two jobs in the service sector still could not pay rent, pay for food and cover other basic needs. About 530,000 Philadelphians are “cost overburdened,” a technical term used by the government that means they face chronic housing insecurity and may have to scrimp on groceries or drugs to cover rent.
Because the crisis facing Philadelphia families will not go away even if the pandemic recedes, hopefully, it is essential that the child tax credit does not either.
Under current legislation, the expanded tax credit is due to expire at the end of this year. As we make great strides to finally end child poverty in Philadelphia, it is essential that we do not back down.
As part of President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, Congress is expected to pass the proposal in the coming weeks, with the goal of getting final legislation to the president’s office by the end of the month.
Representatives Evans and Boyle both sit on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over the tax credit. Both have been strong champions of programs that help our working families. While a temporary extension is a good first step, we want to work with them to make the expanded child tax credit permanent so families can still count on these essential supports.
As we seek to build a 21st century economy that works for all families, not just the elected few, it is essential that our most vulnerable children are put at the top of our priorities.
Mary Arthur is President and CEO of Campaign for Working Families, a non-profit organization committed to helping working families and individuals become economically empowered by providing free tax preparation, creating resources and asset development.