by Jeniffer Solis, Nevada Current
November 30, 2021
LAS VEGAS–Nevada families have received more than $750 million from expanded child tax credit direct payments since the program began in July.
More than 595,000 children in Nevada benefited from the credits in November, according to data released by the U.S. Treasury and Internal Revenue Service.
In Nevada, $155 million was distributed to 353,000 qualified families, representing 595,000 eligible children this month. That follows the $153 million distributed to Nevada families in October.
The average November child tax credit payment received per qualifying family was $441 in Nevada, according to the IRS. Slightly more than the national average payment of $435.
On Monday, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo joined Rep. Steven Horsford in Las Vegas to meet with the congressman’s constituents and talk about the value of the expanded child tax credit in Nevada, calling the policy “a key tax cut for middle-class families with children.”
Horsford said extending the child tax credit through the Build Back Better bill, the social spending legislation House Democrats passed earlier this month, is essential to permanently reducing child poverty in Nevada.
In Nevada’s fourth congressional district, 97% of households benefited from the child tax credit lifting about 9,700 children out of poverty, according to Horsford’s office.
“This tax relief has made a positive impact on the lives of working families who have been able to use it to cover costs for food, childcare, and other household needs,” said Adeyemo. “It’s so important to extend the relief through 2022 and make it permanently fully refundable through the Build Back Better Act.”
The expanded child tax credit is set to expire in December absent an extension of the program.
The Biden administration initially proposed continuing the child tax credit expansion through 2025 as part of the social spending plan, however, that was pared back in negotiations. The bill the House finally passed would extend the program for another year, through December 2022. The bill’s fate is uncertain in the Senate.
The American Rescue Plan temporarily increased the child tax credit to $3,000 – $3,600 per child for tax year 2021, with half of the credit advanced through monthly payments. No Republicans in either the House or the Senate voted for the bill.
“We have proposed a clean one year extension of that child tax credit. I wanted it to be longer. We will continue to work to make it longer,” Horsford said. “That will continue to be a major priority for us.”
“Nevada has been disproportionately hit by this pandemic,” Horsford said, highlighting the economic impact of the child tax credit in the state. “ We have the highest unemployment in the nation still.”
Families in Nevada’s fourth congressional district have benefited the most from the extended child tax credits in the state. About 167,000 qualified children in the district have received nearly $44 million in total payments, according to estimates by the Congressional Joint Economic Committee.
Within weeks of the first payments going out, the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey data showed that more than half of middle-income families spent their child tax credit payments on food, 26% spent it on clothes, and 23% spent it on costs related to school and afterschool.
Researchers at the Columbia Center on Poverty and Social Policy found that the initial payments were associated with a 25% decline in food insufficiency among low-income families with children.
A recent national survey from researchers at the Social Policy Institute found that 42% of parents planned to save at least some of the payment in a college fund for their child and 24% planned to use their child tax credit payments for child care expenses.
Adeyemo said the Biden Administration is working on making the monthly payment aspect of the child tax credit permanent.
The American Rescue Plan also made the child tax credit fully refundable, meaning previously ineligible low-income families can now benefit, which Adeyemo called “critical” in lifting children out of poverty.
Democrats, however, must rethink messaging around the child tax credit, said Horsford. Opponents of the child tax credit have attempted to means-test the policy by calling it an entitlement, he said, adding that Democrats need to do a better job at framing the policy as a “tax cut to families with children.”
“Just like big corporations and billionaires get tax cuts in the federal tax code Democrats in Congress decided that we were going to give a tax cut to families, not the very wealthy,” Horsford said.
Advocates argue that outreach to low-income families is critical for Nevada families to receive the full benefits of the child tax credit.
Pat Smith, Program Director for Nevada Free Taxes Coalition, a non-profit organization that offers free tax preparation, said millions of dollars are likely being left on the table by families who have not filed.
“These are folks who are on TANF or SNAP, these are grandparents on social security who have taken in grandchildren, people who don’t need to file. It’s critical that we get the word out to these folks.”
Other advocates described how the child tax credit benefited them personally. Frankie Perez, who became a foster parent of five children during the pandemic, said the cost of raising children has only increased but attributed his financial stability to the child tax credit.
“This has been a blessing,” Perez said.
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