WASHINGTON, D.C. – A lot of us are still learning about the details of the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package passed last month. Some of you have been asking us about the expansion of the child tax credit. Our Washington Bureau has been digging into this to get you answers, and here is what we’ve found.
The Child Tax Credit now covers two age ranges: it will go from $2,000 to $3,600 for children under age 6, and up to $3,000 for other children under age 18.
The Treasury Department will begin rolling this out advance payments in July, and it will run through December 31. The credits are now fully refundable; and a big change: the credit is now available to Americans living in U.S. territories, like Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Child advocacy groups say the expansion will help 69 million children nationwide.
“A lot of the families do did not qualify for the full credit did not qualify because they made too little money,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus on Children, a Washington, D.C.-based children’s advocacy group. “So, what this does is really help… lower-income families even more dramatically.”
Like a traditional child tax credit, the money can be used for several things, including housing, food, child care, and more. White House officials say the credits will be sent to eligible Americans monthly, similar to those stimulus checks.
“It is going to reduce child poverty by 50 percent,” said Jared Bernstein, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisors. “This is a tremendously historic achievement.”
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), who also wrote legislation expanding the child and dependent care tax credit in the American Rescue Plan, has long-focused on children’s policy in Washington.
“It will help them earn more now and earn more later,” Casey said of the child tax credit. “They will be more productive and more successful in life because we made the choice as a family, so to speak, to invest in them.”
The additional, short-term funding made possible through the ARP to help families through the pandemic. Currently, it’s only available through the end of 2021. You can read more about the Child Tax Credit expansion here.