Parents who received advance payments from the expanded child tax credit last year should see the remaining half of that credit in their refunds this year.
But the expansion was temporary, part of the Joe Biden administration’s US bailout. A push by Democrats to make it permanent is going nowhere in Congress, despite mounting evidence that expanded credit has made a big difference for families.
You may feel like you’ve heard this story before — there’s been a lot of research on the child tax credit.
“In many ways, the results weren’t surprising,” said Elaine Maag, who worked on a study just released by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.
There are new discoveries, she says. “We noticed that people were less likely to rely on credit cards, payday loans or pawnbrokers to make ends meet while receiving the Child Tax Credit.”
But, for the most part, this latest study confirmed a lot of things we already knew and heard over and over again from parents.
“So half of that went straight into the account where we paid the bills and stuff,” Stephanie Lane said. She and her husband live near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with their three youngest children, who are 10, 6 and 3.
“The other half went to us to allow the kids to do a type of activity that we wouldn’t normally have the money for them to do.”
Like karate classes. They were getting $800 a month through the credit. “Oh, that was huge for us,” Lane said.
Study after study — of Census Bureau, from the Columbia Center on Poverty and Social Policy and in the Journal of the American Medical Association – found that most parents spent the credit on healthier food, education, extracurricular activities and household necessities.
“It’s incredibly frustrating, I think, to have a tool at our disposal that almost halves child poverty, that really helps low- and middle-income families in ways that we haven’t really seen for a long time, and we just can’t break through to make it a permanent, long-term program,” said Elyssa Schmier of advocacy group MomsRising.
Despite the growing body of evidence that everything says it works.
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