Community leaders work to educate residents about expanded child tax credit

Loli Pollard kisses her son, Enzo, on the first day of kindergarten at Dillon Valley Elementary School on August 25. Parents of children under the age of 6 can receive up to $ 300 per month from the federal government as part of the expanded child tax credit. .
Photo by Jason Connolly / For the Summit Daily News

As part of the American Rescue Plan, the Child Tax Credit has been expanded like never before, allowing families to get monthly payments of up to $ 250 per child ages 6 to 17 and up. $ 300 per child under 6 years old.

U.S. Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado was instrumental in drafting the expansion and worked to raise awareness of the program across the state. He said the expansion allows the tax credit to reach the county’s poorest children since it is fully refundable for the first time.

“Tens of millions of children living in poverty in this country who were not previously eligible for full credit are eligible,” Bennet said in an interview with the Summit Daily News. “That’s why 90% of Colorado’s children get credit, and that’s why we’re reducing our child poverty rate by almost half. “

People who have declared their taxes to Tax service are automatically registered, but those who do not report taxes will need to register separately. Bennet said the easiest way to make sure they benefit from the expansion is to visit The deadline to register and receive the October payment is Monday, October 4 at 11:59 p.m.

While there is various eligibility conditions, the main requirement is that the eligible child has a valid Social Security number for employment in the United States. Joint filers earning up to $ 150,000 and single heads of households earning up to $ 112,500 are eligible for monthly advance payments. Regardless of the amount of tax credit a parent receives, it must be reported on their 2021 income tax return.

Bennet said increasing the amount of money for children under 6 was an important aspect of the expansion, along with the availability of monthly payments. He said his office was working with around 100 advocacy organizations across the state to raise awareness of the program.

“The IRS has done a really good job of implementing this on a monthly basis, but we haven’t reached everyone yet,” Bennet said. “… Anything that anyone at the local level can do to get the word out, especially to people who might not be filing taxes, is something that would be really helpful.”

In Summit County, local entities are also working to make sure families are aware of the opportunity. Lucinda Burns, executive director of Early Childhood Options, said the organization tries to publicize the tax credit in all of its child care programs.

“We think this is a very important benefit for all families, especially low income families,” Burns said.

Burns said she thinks there has been confusion for some families with no big taxes to pay, and they are trying to make sure they know how to register if they don’t file a return. She also said she thought some families might think they don’t qualify when they actually are because of the difference between this tax credit and previous programs.

“It’s really pretty important in helping lift kids out of poverty and helping improve children’s educational and health outcomes,” Burns said. “So this is a very exciting opportunity. We just want to make sure all the families know about it. “

Burns cited research from Center for American Progress which says that a $ 3,000 increase in annual family income can lead to a 19% increase in income once children reach adulthood.

“This more money in our economy is great, but it’s also enough to really lift people out of poverty,” Burns said.

Danielle McQueen, manager of grants and assessment at the Family and Intercultural Resource Center, said the center will contact its clients to make sure they know they have access to the child tax credit. She said the center has a new program that assesses clients’ eligibility for different programs and sends them information on how to use them.

McQueen said that with this new system, the center hopes to send out a bilingual information sheet to make sure local Spanish-speaking residents are aware of the opportunity. Customers can send questions to the center back.

“Our hope is that… if they don’t even know it, when they file their taxes they will be pleasantly surprised,” McQueen said. “But we want to raise awareness about it so that people expect it.”

Summit County Commissioner Tamara Pogue said the tax credit is particularly valuable for local families given the high cost of living in the area.

“Having these funds to offset some of those extra expenses can really make a huge difference in the lives of these families,” said Pogue. “We know that child care is very expensive, that housing is very expensive and that our salaries do not keep up with those costs. So that’s one way I think the federal government, in a very real way, can help make it more manageable for families to live here. “

As a single mother herself, Pogue said she faces the same hardships as other hardworking families in the county, and she said the monthly tax credit payments have served her well. She said it’s important to make sure every family in Summit County knows the desirability of monthly payments.

“I think it’s a very elegant way to almost halve child poverty in this country,” Bennet said. “We have some of the highest child poverty rates in the industrialized world,… and I just don’t think we should accept this as a permanent fact of life for our democracy or our economy. It is unfair to our children.

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