A mother of two’s case for a permanent child-tax credit
There’s a push to make the measure, which was part of the American Rescue Plan Act, a permanent support beam for families.
Between the high rate of unemployment, facing food insecurity for the first time, and conducting work and school from their homes, the coronavirus pandemic has taken a major financial toll on many American families.
According to a 2021 National Endowment for Financial Education survey, nearly seven out of 10 people suffered from a financial setback in 2020.
For a lot of Americans, keeping up with the most basic expenses was extremely difficult, which was compounded by the lack of in-person schooling and childcare services.
Even before the pandemic hit, children, particularly children of color and very young children, were some of the poorest Americans.
Recent U.S. Census Poverty Data also shows that more than 10 million children — nearly 1 in 7 — lived in poverty in 2019.
In that year, a family of four was considered to be below the poverty line if their annual income fell below $26,172, which equals $2,181 a month, $503 a week, or less than $72 a day.
Almost half of all children living in poverty lived in “extreme” poverty, which is defined as the poverty threshold or an annual income of $13,086 for a family of four.
For these reasons, the Biden administration introduced a new and improved child tax credit on Feb. 15, as part of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief package.
The credit, which is set to begin in July, is based on the taxpayer’s 2020 income and will provide $3,000 per child ages six to 17, and $3,600 to children under age six.
This updated child tax credit has the potential to lift nearly 10 million children above the poverty line, or at least move them closer, according to the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
In late April, a group of Democrats from both chambers of Congress, including Sens. Sherrod Brown, Cory Booker and Rep. Ritchie Torres, introduced a bill seeking to make the child tax credit permanent and implement it into Biden’s second round of the recovery plan.
For many families, this legislation would be greatly beneficial, and in some cases, lifesaving.
Brianna, a mother of two from Utah, recently sat down with Al DÍA to discuss what a permanent child tax credit would mean for her family.
Both Brianna and her husband are currently unemployed, as they are disabled, and they receive about $1,500 combined from Supplemental Security Income (SSI.)
Her sons, one who is elementary school aged and one who is high-school aged, are both on the autism spectrum. Brianna’s oldest son has a speech impediment, and her youngest son has ADHD and a sensory processing disorder.
Before the pandemic, her children were on a very strict schedule and were able to receive more personal attention in school through small class sizes and an IEP — an individualized Education Program.
When the pandemic hit last March, the lives of Brianna’s children were turned upside down, and their routines were completely disrupted.
Remote learning took away the individualized programs they previously had, and they were no longer able to go to the park and to friend’s houses as they normally would.
Brianna had to get creative and take on the task of doing speech therapy and keeping her children occupied and entertained despite the forced isolation.
“We had a difficult time keeping up with [remote learning] because we have two different computers, and I had two separate times for them to do meetings with their teachers. I had to schedule them to go outside and burn off energy and just ‘be kids.’”
“It was kind of nerve-wracking, having to tell them: ‘Sorry, honey, you can’t go outside, I can’t let you run around in a big group,'” she said.
Fortunately, the three stimulus checks provided by the federal government allowed for Brianna’s family to take care of some important expenses as well as indulge in some simple luxuries.
The stimulus money allowed her family to secure long-term housing, a new TV to replace a broken one and they were able to finally meet up with friends and go out to dinner.
Brianna explained that in her area, rent can be very expensive, so by securing long-term housing, they will eventually be able to move from their apartment into a house.
A permanent child-tax credit would go a long way in making that a reality for her and for families across the U.S.
“What some people don’t understand is that those of us that are on a fixed income and have children, this extra money will come in handy, just helping us make ends meet. If it was to become permanent, a lot of low/fixed income families might actually be able to get caught up, and get ahead on a lot of their bills. It would also help them provide a slightly better life for their children,” said Brianna.