An urgent message for all parents: Don’t miss out on child tax credits

President Biden’s American Rescue Plan contains a tax credit expansion that policymakers say will cut child poverty in half. Just as Social Security and Medicare nearly erased elder poverty, the Child Tax Credit (CTC) expansion has the potential to lift out of poverty more than half of the 13 million children living below the 2021 poverty level of $26,200 for a family of four.

But many parents still need to apply.

The tax credit’s scope is wide, with the intention of moving all children and families out of poverty. All children are meant to benefit from it, whether or not their parents file a tax return. The IRS is merely the vehicle for providing this critically needed benefit.

Right now, millions of families are seeing payments in their bank accounts or receiving checks for the July CTC payment of $250 or $300 per child.

But if you didn’t file 2019 or 2020 federal taxes – or apply for stimulus payments – you could be missing out. Many families are not required to file tax returns because their incomes are so low. They are at risk of missing out on a CTC expansion that could change their lives.

If you did not get a July CTC payment, call ABCD at 617-348-6329 or email abcdconnect@bostonabcd.org for immediate assistance. We will make sure that all those eligible for the CTC get their payment.

You can also go the IRS Child Tax Credit website tool at ChildTaxCredit.gov and click on the CTC sign-up link. Eligible families who sign up using the tool can also access stimulus payments of $600 and $1,200 if they haven’t received them.

The innovative CTC expansion legislation provides tax credit payments of $300 per child under age 6 and $250 for each child from ages 6 to 17 years old from July through December 2021. Families need to file for the January to June 2021 payments with their 2021 taxes. For the year 2021 they will receive CTC payments of $3000 or $3,600 per child, depending on their ages.

All working families get the full credit if they make up to $150,000 for a couple or $112,500 for a single parent head of household.

Families reaching out to ABCD Connects staff members can also ask about ABCD Head Start and Early Head Start for their infants, toddlers, and 3-5-year-olds, SummerWorks jobs for their teens, housing assistance, food pantries, job-training and more.

We also need to work together as advocates to ensure that the CTC expansion continues year after year as the Biden administration intends. We want to see it become a permanent part of American life, along with Social Security, Medicare, and the Affordable Care Act, returning this nation to working people, a nation where children do not go to bed hungry.

John J. Drew is president and CEO of Action for Boston Community Development.