Suddenly, recent legislation has produced a policy with the potential of significantly reducing poverty in this country.
Included in the major COVID-relief bill passed by Congress in March is a section that temporarily extends the child
tax credit. At a special Community Issues Forum on June 25th, Senator Sherrod Brown, one of the architects of this extension, talked about how this policy will provide needed income to low-income families when it goes into effect in July.
With income inequality at an all time high, Senator Brown sees the tax credit extension as a big step in the other direction. Previously, only families with significant taxable incomes could avail themselves of the federal child tax credit. With the extension, families with little or even no taxable incomes can take advantage of the credit. These families are now eligible to receive $300 a month for a child under five years of age, and $250 for children over five. For instance, a single mother with two children under five can now qualify to receive $600 a month from the Feds.
Brown noted that the temporary extension of the child tax credit will be in effect for twelve months. He thinks that the positive results of this policy on low-income families will help build the case for making the extension permanent. He told Forum attendees that they needed to start collecting positive stories about how child credit tax payments make a major difference in the lives of low income families. With a year of positive evidence amassed, he speculated, it will be hard to make the case not to make this extension permanent.
Senator Brown had to leave for a meeting halfway through the Forum, but the discussion of this policy continued. Providing further insights was Stephanie Moes, of the Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio. She stressed that not enough people knew about the tax credit or how to sign up to qualify for it. She emphasized that social service agencies that serve low-income families must become knowledgeable about the process so they can help their clients get through the paperwork and qualify. For instance, families who have not filed a federal income tax return recently must now fill out some forms in order to receive this benefit.
Moes also stressed Senator Brown's point about collecting stories during the next twelve months that show the benefits of this child tax credit extension. This type of information as well as effective citizen advocacy will be needed to help leaders like Senator Brown promote legislation to make the extension permanent. For further information, contact Stephanie Moes, firstname.lastname@example.org, or www.brown.senate.gov.