Millions of American families with children have received monthly payments since July totaling $45 billion through the expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC). The CTC is already making a big impact for families and children, but some families are not aware that they are eligible. New Ventures Maine, CA$H Maine, and Maine Equal Justice are collaborating to make sure that those families in Maine who have not yet received the credit will get it!
How It Works
The American Rescue Plan, passed in March, expanded the existing child tax credit, providing advance monthly payments for half of the total credit amount and increasing the benefit for 2021 only. The child tax credit increased from $2,000 to $3,000 for each child aged 6 to 17 and to $3,600 per child for kids 5 years old or younger.
Families who filed a tax return in 2019 or 2020 and had direct deposit will receive the first half of the credit for children they claimed in six monthly payments (July to December).
Some families may need to sign up to get the monthly payments. If a family doesn’t usually file taxes because they don’t earn enough, or if they just had a baby, or if they took custody of a child in 2021, they would need to sign up. If the family missed the July through September payments but sign up later, they’ll still get the advance payment before December. If a family fails to sign up for the new child tax credit this year they can still get the money in a lump sum next year if they file a 2021 tax return.
Getting this information to every eligible family requires coordination. The work of the collaboration with New Ventures Maine, CA$H Maine, and Maine Equal Justice (MEJ) is three-pronged: 1.) New Ventures Maine and MEJ will co-facilitate a statewide coalition that will coordinate on CTC enrollment, outreach, story collection, and advocacy; 2.) NVME, MEJ, and the statewide coalition members will provide outreach about the Advance CTC, targeting populations who may not have received the credit and promoting CA$H Maine phone lines for assistance from mid-September through mid-November; 3.) When the Advance CTC is no longer available, they will provide continued outreach to target populations statewide, promoting CA$H Maine tax sites as locations to access unclaimed credits.
Money from the credit has already gone a long way to ensure that the country’s children have enough food. Data from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey show that the number of adults living with children reporting that their household didn’t have enough to eat fell by 3.3 million or nearly one-third in the month and a half after the federal government began issuing monthly payments of the expanded Child Tax Credit. Adults without children (who don’t receive the credit) saw little change over this period. In addition, analysis of the data from the first monthly payment shows that families with low incomes were particularly likely to spend the monthly payment on necessities: food, utilities, clothing, and rent. Households with incomes above $25,000 also used the credit on these kinds of necessities and were using the credit to pay down debt or save the funds for emergency and future expenses.
We want the Child Tax Credit to make as much of a positive impact on families and children as possible. With funding from Share Our Strength and working with our partners at Maine Equal Justice and at other organizations poised to serve families with children who are eligible, we are making sure that this money helps with food, housing, and ensuring the healthy futures of Maine children.