By
Norín Dollard, PhD
|
October 5, 2021

Now is the Time to Permanently Expand the Federal Child Tax Credit

This post was last updated on September 29, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

Heading into the pandemic, Florida’s poverty rate was gradually improving, although 1 in 5 children still lived in poverty in 2019. A year after the pandemic started, however, nearly half of Florida adults in households with children reported lost income since the COVID-19 crisis began. As a result, many families and children continue to face significant hardship. Programs like the federal Child Tax Credit (CTC) provide an additional boost to help families make ends meet. For example, while food insecurity in Florida is still a serious concern for children, more families are considered moderately food insecure than severely food insecure since the CTC payments began. Unfortunately, many children in Florida could miss out on this additional assistance because families have not heard of the credit or are not aware that their children qualify.

For 2021, the CTC is a monthly tax credit available to most Florida households with children. The American Rescue Plan Act increased the amount available per child and extended the tax credit to families who would not ordinarily be required to file a tax return. Although 92 percent of Florida children under 18 stand to benefit from the expanded CTC, 127,299 children in the state are at risk of missing out on the credit.  

New data from the Census Bureau indicate that nationally, stimulus payments have helped families weather the pandemic, especially Black and Latina/o children. The CTC payments that started hitting people’s bank accounts on July 15, 2021, have already lifted 3.5 million children out of poverty nationwide. Families are investing these funds in their children. They are using the payments for child care, which enables parents to remain or return to the workforce, and they are putting the funds toward rent and groceries so that growing brains have stability and the nutrients they need so that children can be good students. 

Making the CTC expansion permanent, as proposed in the Build Back Better Plan, would ensure that families are able to keep working and are better able to feed and clothe their children. It also provides the opportunity for families to invest in their children’s education now and in the future, such as by establishing college savings accounts.

It is also just as important to get the word out on the CTC because so many families still have not applied for the credit.

To find out more about eligibility and information on how families can apply, click here.  

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