The families of more than 61 million children – including more than 600,000 in Arkansas – benefited from the expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) included in the American Rescue Plan. From July through December of 2021, more than 350,000 families in Arkansas received half of their CTC in the form of an advance monthly payment, a cumulative total of more than $900,000,000.
These payments were helping families make ends meet, especially families with lower incomes, as an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows:
The majority of families with income below $35,000 spent the advance CTC payments on the basic necessities of life – food, utilities, and rent or mortgage. But that lifeline has been withdrawn; Census data shows more households with children are having trouble covering usual household expenses since the payments ended in December. And a study by the Columbia University Center on Poverty and Social Policy showed that child poverty increased from 12.1 percent to 17 percent in the same time frame.
Congress should make these CTC expansions permanent so as to dramatically and permanently reduce child poverty. But some families are at risk of missing out on some or all of the remaining CTC available – especially families with very low incomes, families with unmarried adults, and Black, Indigenous or Other People of Color (BIPOC) families.
Most families that received their advance payment intend to file their tax return and receive the rest of the CTC as part of their tax refund. But many families that did not receive the advance payments may not plan to file taxes this year and would therefore miss out on the expanded CTC entirely. It is critical that an effort be made to reach these communities.
Although more could be done, there are some resources available; the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program helps families with low to moderate income file their income taxes and ensure they receive the credits they’re owed. Some local partners include https://banksouthern.com/vita/ and https://arkansasassetbuilders.org/services/vita/
Although today, April 18, is the tax filing deadline, you can submit your taxes after the deadline without penalty if you don’t owe. More assistance can be found at https://www.getyourrefund.org/en/vita_providers