The Bulletin Board

Lawmakers urged to extend changes to child tax credit

By: - September 24, 2021 3:33 pm
A mom with a child in a park

Carrie Duran and her daughter Katie attend a rally in Manchester in July celebrating the new child tax credit program and advocating for paid leave. (Courtesy of MomsRising)

Carrie Duran, a single mother of three and a full-time student, has a reminder for federal lawmakers opposed to extending changes to the child tax credit that have been credited with decreasing child poverty by 40 percent. The additional financial support is keeping her ahead of her bills, including tuition.

“As a working mom, as a single mom who is going to school full time, I do expect to be in a better financial situation in the future,” said Duran, who’s in her final year of school. “In a few years I’m going to be working full time, having a job with benefits, and taking care of my family. I don’t expect to need this assistance forever.”

Duran, of Wolfeboro, was among those who spoke at a press conference Friday highlighting the impact of temporary changes to the child tax credit that began sending families monthly payments in July, expanded the benefit to reach more people, and increased the amount of assistance. In prior years, families who qualified received the benefit as a tax credit rather than monthly payments. 

The changes, part of the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan, will expire in December unless Congress agrees to continue them. (The state’s federal delegation has expressed support for continuing the changes.) An August survey from Data for Progress reported that 61 percent of respondents supported or somewhat supported the Biden administrations’ Build Back Better Plan, which includes the extension of the child tax credit changes as well as a cap on child care expenses and deep discounts on college tuition. The survey did not ask specifically about the child tax credit expansion but instead asked about extended tax cuts for families. Sixty-six percent said they support or somewhat support them. 

The money can be used for any expense, from car repairs and rent to heating bills and groceries. Duran said she was able to cover a $900 bill to keep her car running and school supplies for her daughters, and had less trouble paying for groceries. “What a relief it is not to be the mom saying, ‘Okay … let’s put that back and let’s put that back,” Duran said. “I don’t have to do that now.” 

The impact for New Hampshire families was not immediately available. Nationally, the United States Census Bureau said after the first payments arrived, families with children reported less difficulty paying bills and affording groceries. The Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University reported an immediate 40 percent drop in the child poverty rate as a result of the changes.

When asked about the biggest barriers threatening an extension of the tax credit changes, Amanda Sears, director of the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy, named two things: politics and misinformation. Competing infrastructure investment priorities in Congress and concerns about the debt ceiling should not distract lawmakers from families like Duran’s, she said.

“For people in this country, these are not partisan issues,” she said. “The expanded child tax credit is putting money right into the hands of people right now, so that they can pay for basic expenses.” 

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Annmarie Timmins
Annmarie Timmins

Senior reporter Annmarie Timmins is a New Hampshire native who covered state government, courts, and social justice issues for the Concord Monitor for 25 years. During her time with the Monitor, she won a Nieman Fellowship to study journalism and mental health courts at Harvard for a year. She has taught journalism at the University of New Hampshire and writing at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications. Email: [email protected]