Congress passed the expanded federal child tax credit as part of the latest stimulus package. While eligible families can get the credit, some may miss out because their income is below the income threshold for filing taxes.
Congressman Joe Morelle's office (D-25) says the tax credit will lift 8,200 children living in his district out of poverty and 2,800 children out of deep poverty. His district covers the city of Rochester and most of Monroe County. Qualifying families will receive an average of $4,900 this year.
"It can help that family get a car to get to work and to be able to hold down a job more stably. It can help someone pursue an educational opportunity and ensure that their children have safe and nurturing care while they're enrolling in community college," said Pete Nabozny, director of policy at the Children's Agenda. "The options are sort of endless."
But there is one potential barrier. Some families fall below the income threshold for filing taxes. If that is the case, they will not be identified by the IRS to receive the payments. Nabozny said every effort should be made to try to identify those families and help them get registered.
The tax credits will be delivered in the form of monthly payments to income-eligible families starting in July. The payments will end in December, unless Congress decides to expand the effort.
Nabozny said when earned income tax credits and SNAP benefits were increased in the past, it led to improved school readiness and benefited the overall well-being of children.
"We know from past evaluations and past studies what kind of impact this sort of support will have and this is larger in a lot of ways, more universal," he said. "We just need to identify that evidence and find the political will to continue it."
Morelle's office says more than 83% of the children living in the district will benefit from the extra money.