Access to CTC payments is crucial to curbing poverty

June 7, 2021
Family First/StockSnap

By Sergio Mata-Cisneros

The Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Treasury Department announced last month that beginning July 15 it would send Child Tax Credit (CTC) monthly payments to eligible families. Payments will end in December.

Parents will receive $300 per child younger than age 6 and $250 for those between ages 6 and 17.

The American Rescue Plan Act that Congress passed earlier this year included this historic one-year expansion of the CTC, increasing the credit and making it available through monthly payments. This expansion of the CTC has the potential to cut child poverty in the United States by nearly half and could do more to reduce hunger and poverty among our nation’s children than any single policy has in decades. 

Families that have filed their 2020 tax returns do not have to do anything to receive the CTC. They will automatically start to get the monthly payments on July 15. However, the CTC will be available for the first time to millions of families with little or no earnings.

Still, these families do not typically file taxes—in fact, some have never filed taxes before—so they are not in the IRS system and are at risk of missing out on the monthly CTC payments.

According to the People’s Policy Project, 1 in 3 children living in poverty live with families that do not file taxes. These children need the monthly CTC benefit the most because they experience food insecurity at higher rates and typically do not know where their next meal is coming from.

Also, it is likely that their families have not heard about the expanded CTC.

For the CTC to be effective and help reduce child poverty and hunger, it must be accessible and reach the children who need it the most. Bread for the World has been urging the IRS to open a simple, easy, and straightforward portal for families who typically do not file taxes so they can sign up to receive the monthly CTC payments.

The IRS recently announced that they would open a simplified filing tool, likely in June, that would allow non-filers to claim the CTC.

The Biden administration has proposed making the CTC full refundability permanent while extending other expanded provisions of the CTC through 2025.

Bread is urging members of Congress to make the CTC expansion permanent and available to all children regardless of immigration status. Bread also plans to work with faith partners on an outreach campaign to ensure families become educated about the CTC and how to sign up for monthly payments.

Sergio Mata-Cisneros is a domestic policy analyst at Bread for the World.

For the CTC to be effective and help reduce child poverty and hunger, it must be accessible and reach the children who need it the most. 

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