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Monthly payments to families could end if Congress doesn't pass 'Build Back Better' by Dec. 28

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Posted at 7:19 PM, Dec 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-14 16:11:57-05

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As U.S. Senators consider whether to pass the Build Back Better Act, President Biden’s “plan to rebuild the middle class,” a looming end-of-the-year deadline has policy experts concerned.

Monthly payments to families with kids, known as the expanded Child Tax Credit, could end December 28 if Congress doesn’t pass Build Back Better.

The expanded credit, which provides $300 per month per child under the age of six and $250 per month per child ages six to 17, was originally part of the American Rescue Plan. According to the White House, Build Back Better will provide those monthly payments to the parents of nearly 90 percent of American children for 2022.

Will Petrik, budget researcher at Policy Matters Ohio, said more than two million Ohio children get these monthly payments, which began in July 2021.

“These payments are helping to provide security, stability for kids and families,” Petrik said. “The average Ohio family is getting about $440 a month to help pay for groceries, for rent, for childcare, for other basics.”

Petrik said when families have resources to pay for the basics, children do better.

“We know that particularly when kids live in poverty, they are less healthy, they're less secure, they're more stressed,” Petrik said. “But when families have additional resources, kids have a better chance in terms of their education, in terms of future opportunities.”

Petrik shared an anonymous story about an Ohio family who received the credit:

“One family of four recently got signed up for the child tax credit. The nine-year-old son is in remission from cancer and has frequent follow-up appointments at a Children’s Hospital located an hour and a half from the family’s home. The mother had recently been fired from her job for missing so many days of work to take her son to his appointments."

The father, a farmworker, had also lost wages to attend appointments and is currently out of work due to the season-ending. The couple has a new baby. They were not sure how they would pay all their bills as well as gas to drive to their son’s doctor appointments. The family got signed up for the child tax credit and the federal stimulus payments that went out to residents over the last two years. When the family found out, the mother was stunned. She started crying. She said it was a ‘godsend’ for her family.”

Petrik said that for many Ohioans and Americans, the payments have already made a difference, noting that there has been a “drastic decrease in childhood poverty” and that the program has helped families get enough to eat instead of going hungry.

“We also analyzed data that shows that fewer adults in households with children reported having trouble just paying for monthly basic household expenses,” Petrik said. “So it's really, you know, I think broadly just giving parents more breathing room and help families afford things that they need.”

On the White House website, a release from the end of October reads in part, “This historic tax cut will help cover the cost of food, housing, health care, and transportation and will continue the largest one-year reduction in child poverty in history. And critically, the framework includes permanent refundability for the Child Tax Credit, meaning that the neediest families will continue to receive the full Child Tax Credit over the long-run.”

Petrik reminded people that even if they missed the November 15 deadline to sign up for the expanded Child Tax Credit, and even if these monthly payments come to an end, families can still get a one-time Child Tax Credit payment next year by filing their federal income taxes.

He also urged people to call their U.S. Senators (Senator Sherrod Brown and Senator Rob Portman) and their U.S. Representative in Congress to encourage them to pass Build Back Better by the end of this year.

Olivia Fecteau is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.