Expanded child tax credit program succeeds, politicians say
PHOENIX – Advocates and government officials praise the new child tax credit, which has provided thousands of dollars to Arizona households, calling it “help when we need it most.”
A Arizona Center for Economic Progress report released Wednesday highlighted the benefits of the Arizona Family Tax Credit based on preliminary information two months after its launch.
“For so many people in Arizona, this finally means having the resources to make ends meet,” said David Lujan, President and CEO of Children’s Action Alliance. “The expanded CLC fills an important gap in the fight against economic hardship and poverty in Arizona. ”
As of March, 2.4 million Arizona households – 44% of the state total – had at least one member lost their job since the pandemic began in March 2020, with households with children at even greater risk , according to the report.
But the expanded child tax credit offers a solution to that, Lujan said.
The Payments are part of the US $ 1.9 trillion bailout signed in March. The law increased the tax credit per child by at least $ 1,000, depending on the age of the child, and raised the age of eligibility to 17 years. qualify, increasing the benefit for black and Latino children in Arizona.
The credit only applies for the 2021 tax year. Democratic lawmakers in Washington, DC, have already proposed extending the higher tax credit until 2025, with some hoping to eventually make it. permanent.
But not everyone agrees. Republicans, including the four Arizona GOP representatives, voted against the bill, with some members of Congress saying it increases reliance on public funds.
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said the program was doing a “world of good” for families at a crucial time.
“Economists tell us that the best tool we have to fight poverty is to invest in children,” she said. “The child care tax credit does that.
In August, more than $ 352 million in expanded child tax credit payments went to Arizona families, with an average of $ 444 per household, according to the Center for Economic Progress report.
Households in the lowest income percentile, those earning less than $ 22,000, would receive 34% of the expansion’s total tax benefits, with an average increase of $ 4,280 per household, according to the report.
Katie Nash, a Chandler teacher and mother of two, has seen these benefits firsthand.
Although her household is considered “middle class,” Nash said they basically lived on paychecks with little additional expense for necessities, including preventative doctor visits.
During the pandemic, she said her family paid for various services for her daughters, including specialized pediatric eye care, glasses and mental health counseling.
And those expenses added up – after eye exams and glasses, Nash said the family paid more than $ 1,200, which is almost two weeks of pay after taxes and other deductions.
“I had no idea how we were going to pay for these services because we are already on a tight budget,” Nash said.
After the first payment in July, according to the report, the most frequently cited uses for credit included food, utilities, clothing, textbooks and school supplies, and paying off debt.
With the expansion of the child tax credit, Nash said his family was able to learn coping strategies to cope with everyday life.
“Without the monthly child tax credit, I don’t know what we would have done,” she said.
The report says more than 1.5 million children in Arizona would benefit in one way or another if the changes were made permanent and the impact would be greatest on families of color.
Among Arizona’s Latino and black children, poverty would be reduced by 47% and 51%, respectively, according to projections from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. According to census data, the center says the total poverty rate in Arizona would decrease by 45%.
“It’s important for every family,” said Gallego, “but (the expanded child tax credit) can change the lives of those struggling to cope.”