As part of the American Rescue Plan, the federal government began distribution of Child Tax Credit payments last Thursday, July 15.

Advocates and Congressmembers such as Hakeem Jeffries, Nydia Velazquez, Yvette Clarke, and Ritchie Torres supported expanding the credit for more than a year or making it a permanent part of tax benefits for families, despite Republican opposition to the credit or the American Rescue Plan. At the moment the payments are temporary and will be phased out over the course of the next year.

The payments are scheduled to go out on the 15th of every month for the next six months: July, August, September, October, November and December. The amounts are $3,600 for children under 6 and $3,000 for children 6 to 17.

In his weekly press conference, Jeffries said that President Joe Biden, House Democrats, and Senate Democrats have been working hard over the last several months to rein in COVID-19 and the virus’s variants, and to provide direct relief and assistance to the American people. “And as a result of the fact that the Child Tax Credit is now taking effect, help is not simply on the way for America’s children and families. Help is here,” said Jeffries.

Jeffries said the goal is to not return to “pre-pandemic normal” because far too many families and children were struggling even then.

Prior to the pandemic last year, census data puts about 800,000 children living in poverty in New York State.

“We know that in a city like New York you can be poor irrespective of work effort,” said Executive Director of Citizens’ Committee for Children Jennifer March.

March posits that the credit will help thousands of kids and their families find stability. She said the child tax credit needs to be permanent. Something many congress members got behind as a rallying cry.

Velazquez, who represents the 7th Congressional district, said that 81.5% of children in her district will benefit from the expanded and improved credit. “This tax credit will lift 13,900 children in my district out of poverty. Think of all the progress we can make, this is why we must make this tax credit permanent,” said Velazquez.

Torres said essentially the credit will operate as social security for families with children and appear monthly as opposed to annually, which is all desperately needed as the city and state recovers from COVID-19.

“We cannot and should not be the party that cuts child poverty in half only until 2025 and lets the expanded Child Tax Credit expire. We must be the party that champions a permanent breakthrough against child poverty. I urge President Biden to make his greatest achievement a permanent Child Tax Credit,” said Torres.

Clarke, who represents the 9th congressional district in Brooklyn, said about 143,500 children will gain from the tax credit, and of them, 4,200 children and their families will be raised from “deep poverty.”

“Figures of this magnitude and impact are not limited to Brooklyn; they are prolific nationwide,” said Clarke. “By allowing the improved Child Tax Credit to expire, we run the risk of taking a critical monetary source from these families at a time where they have grown to depend on it.”

Clarke added that America’s tragic reality is that a vastly disproportionate number of racial minorities are among its most underserved and underrepresented populations. The Child Tax Credit, she said, will push the U.S. towards “true equity” by giving all American families “breathing room.”

March said that putting additional resources in Black, Latino, and Asian households will go a long way to bolstering racial equity in the city.

Advocates and officials said their main concern now is doing outreach to make sure affected families are aware of their potential benefits.

March said the reason for focusing on increasing visibility of the credit is that many people have earned so little that they don’t typically have to file taxes but are still eligible for the credit without realizing it.

She was also especially concerned about working people with Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) numbers, which is issued when a person can’t get a social security number. Just because someone has an ITIN, she said, doesn’t mean their children don’t get social security numbers or are disqualified from the tax credit.

CEO and President of the Education Alliance Alan van Capelle said that he’s looking forward to studying and tracking the data the credit will provide about how families spend their extra money. As of now the projections are that the credit could “slice child poverty in half.”

“This is really the child’s money,” said van Capelle. “We hope to have a set of data in a year’s time that will illustrate just what families in New York City spent their money on. Who was using it for food, rent, children’s clothing. Who’s giving their kids music lessons or extra tutoring with those dollars.”

Individuals can provide their information to the IRS through the non-filer sign up tool. Otherwise families will get their credits through their tax returns via direct deposit or mail.

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