We all know that raising kids is expensive. An extra $250-300 a month can go a long way in helping families provide food and clothes, and paying for child care and rent.
This year many families are receiving that extra income due to the restructuring of the Child Tax Credit (CTC). Part of the American Rescue Plan passed by Congress in March, it made CTC payments larger -- up to a total of $3,000 per child ages 6-17 and $3,600 for children under six. It also allowed more families to be eligible. The result has been that millions of families have been lifted out of poverty nationwide. While many families are receiving the payment, there are some who do not know they qualify.
Most families have automatically started to receive payments of $300 a month for each child under age 6 and $250 a month for children ages 6-17 between July and December. However, some families who need the CTC most are not currently receiving it -- because they may not have filed taxes in 2019 or 2020. The California Policy Lab estimates that in Alameda County, 27% of children enrolled in SNAP or TANF are at risk of not receiving the CTC. This means that over $53 million in tax credits might go unclaimed in Alameda County alone.
Nearly all families with children are eligible, even if they don’t normally file taxes. The monthly payments will not count as income and not impact their eligibility for programs such as SNAP, TANF and MediCal.
Californians can go to GetCTC.org/California-benefits and fill out simplified forms to get the Child Tax Credit. Live help is available in English and Spanish.
At this site, families can also learn whether it makes sense for them to file a full return to get other benefits such as the Golden State Stimulus. For those families who do want to file a full return, there is free tax help available online and in person at the Oakland Public Library and at the Alameda County Social Services Agency (for those receiving public assistance).
In addition, there is a CTC webinar for service providers and family navigators to learn about how to help families file on Tuesday, October 5, 2021 at 10 am via zoom organized by LightBox Collaborative and featuring Code for America, the creator of getCTC.org
For more information on how to get the word out to families about this important program, check out the California CTC Communications Hub compiled by LightBox Collaborative.
The CTC is scheduled to revert back to the former structure which means lower payments and fewer eligible families at the end of 2021. Efforts are underway in Congress to include the expanded CTC as part of the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation process.