Help is Here: Monthly Child Tax Credit checks begin July 15

OPINION: The expanded Child Tax Credit, thanks to the American Rescue Plan, will be distributed in monthly installments to eligible American families with children starting July 15.

Children and teachers from the KU Kids Deanwood Childcare Center complete a mural in celebration of the launch of the Child Tax Credit on July 14, 2021 at the KU Kids Deanwood Childcare Center in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Community Change)

This Sunday, the world will celebrate Nelson Mandela International Day. Nelson Mandela, the former South African President, spent his life advocating for worldwide peace and freedom and defending the rights of children and the poor. 

As we approach Mandela Day, I am reminded of his words when he said, “Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the struggles of those living in poverty, and exposed the economic impacts of the virus on our nation’s poor. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan (ARP), which was signed into law by President Joe Biden in March with only Democratic support, we are taking significant action to address the persistent poverty that has long been a scourge on our nation. 

Perhaps the most significant anti-poverty measure in the ARP is the expanded Child Tax Credit, which will be distributed in monthly installments to eligible American families with children starting July 15. The Center for Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University projects that this provision will cut the child poverty rate in half this year.

Previously the Child Tax Credit was capped at $2,000 and not fully available to the lowest-income families. Thanks to the ARP, the full amount of the expanded credit — now available for all households filing jointly with incomes up to $150,000 and single parents with incomes up to $112,500 — is $3,600 for every child under 6 years old and $3,000 for every child ages 6-17. Starting July 15 and continuing through the end of the year, these households will receive $300 for every child or $250 every month for each child in those respective age ranges. The remainder of the credit can be claimed when filing 2021 tax returns early next year. 

A copy of a IRS 1040 tax form is seen at an H&R Block office on the day President Donald Trump signed the Republican tax cut bill in Washington, DC on December 22, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Families who filed tax returns for 2019 or 2020, or who filled out the IRS Non-filers tool last year to receive an Economic Impact Payment, will get this tax relief automatically. Families who neither filed a tax return for 2019 or 2020 nor used the IRS Non-Filers tool should go online and use the IRS Child Tax Credit Non-filer Sign-up Tool to sign up today. 

Eligible families who get their refunds from the IRS through direct deposit will see these payments in their bank account; those who don’t use direct deposit will receive their payments by mail.

Although we are making significant progress in the fight against poverty with this life-changing benefit, it is set to expire after one year. We cannot expect a temporary fix to resolve a permanent and persistent issue. Now, more than ever, we must tap into our humanity to help our most vulnerable citizens recover from the pandemic. We must also ensure they have the resources needed to sustain their and their families’ overall well-being.  

Unfortunately, just as Republicans opposed the American Rescue Plan, they also oppose extending this key provision. They don’t seem to understand that stronger families produce a stronger, more productive nation. Whether or not they are persuaded to join the effort to address persistent poverty and strengthen American families, Democrats are working hard to extend the expansion of the Child Tax Credit into the future.  

Mandela also said, “When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace.” 

None of us should be able to rest until every person has access to the greatness of America. That includes extending the ARP’s expansions of the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, and nutrition assistance for children, as well as closing the Medicaid coverage gap in the 12 states, including my home state of South Carolina, that refuse to expand the program. I know I won’t rest, and neither will my Democratic colleagues, until we make it happen.


Congressman James E. Clyburn, theGrio.com

Congressman James E. Clyburn is the Majority Whip and the third-ranking Democrat in the United States House of Representatives. He proudly serves the 6th Congressional District of South Carolina.

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