By Tom Travis
“This is not a hand-out, but an immediate hand-up to support families like mine. I encourage everyone, working or not, to file their taxes for 2020. Let’s take advantage of the resources we voted for,” said 2nd Ward Flint resident Ladel Lewis.
Lewis, a single mother of a six-year-old boy attending Freeman Elementary said, “This child tax credit means so much to so many people, including me. I can use the additional $300 per month for necessities.”
Lewis added, “For example, I just received my home insurance bill and home insurance has gone up drastically in the area and this added money each month will help pay for things like this. Also it will help to pay for needed upgrades around the home that I couldn’t otherwise afford.”
U.S. Representative Dan Kildee held a press conference at University Pavilion Friday morning along with Lewis; Jamie Gaskin, executive director of United Way Genesee County; University of Michigan Professor of Public Policy Luke Shaefer; and Kyle Lawler of Legal Services of Eastern Michigan to announce a new child tax credit for families across the country.
The new Child Tax Credit is worth $3,000 per year, per child ages 6-17 and $3,600 per year, per child under six years old. If you have children under 18, you may be eligible even if you do not usually file taxes or have low or no earnings. It will be paid out in regular payments, not once a year, according to a press release. Kildee said families can expect the first payments to be going out in July 2021.
To get the expanded child tax credit
- File your taxes, even if you don’t file them normally. This will tell the IRS where to send your payment and how many children you have.
- If you need help filing your taxes for free, visit the United Way’s website: www.myfreetaxes.com or call their hotline at 866-698-9435. Their online tax filing program will walk you step-by-step through filing your taxes, explained the press release.
Are you eligible?
- If you are single and your income is under $75,000. Or, if you are single and file taxes as a head of household, your income must be under $112,500.
- If you have a spouse and your combined income is under $150,000.
- If your child has a Social Security Number. You can file with an ITIN, but your child must have a SSN.
- If household income is above those thresholds, you will receive slightly smaller payments, depending on income.
More information and frequently asked questions about the child tax credit can be found at the website poverty.umich.edu/child-tax-credit.
“American Rescue Plan will get more shots in arms, open our schools safely and help get parents back to work,” Kildee said
Kildee, a member of the House Ways and Means committee, helped write the expanded Child Tax Credit, said that the American Rescue Plan has brought $733 million into the 5th congressional district, including $99 million for the City of Flint and $144 million for the Flint Community Schools.
“Families with children are facing particular stress, physical stress, emotional stress, economic stress and that’s why we felt it was so important to provide direct help to our families through some expansion and changes to the child tax credit. Which I feel is a fundamental way that we support families.”
“141,000 children across the 5th district and across Michigan will benefit from this expanded tax credit. Economists say that this will help to cut child poverty in half.”
“Sixty percent of children live at or below the poverty level. That’s unconscionable in a kind of country that we have with the vast wealth. This is the way that we address that by supporting those families that need the help to lift those kids out of poverty. People working full-time should not have to live in poverty, shouldn’t struggle putting food on the table.”
“This is a game changing moment,” according to United Way’s Jamie Gaskin
“This is a game changing moment for families across Michigan,” Gaskin said. “We’re excited to see how this will lift families out of poverty. More than 40% of Michigan families are struggling to pay their bills every week. They have to choose between paying rent, what kind of food they can put on the table, or do I pay child care?”
Gaskin pleaded with families to avoid going to pay-day or check cashing businesses, instead urging them to begin a banking relationship with a local bank as they begin to receive the child tax credit payments. “We encourage families to go to a bank so they don’t have to pay 20 per cent or more in check cashing fees.”
Legal Services of Eastern Michigan available to help families
Kyle Lawrey, representing Legal Services of Eastern Michigan, noted that because this payment is a child tax credit, there will be legal implications involved, like custody and relationship issues. Lawrey said LSEM may be able to help parents with questions. LSEM can be reached at 800-322-4512 to schedule an appointment or to ask questions.
What a “transformational, critical and amazing moment this is” – UM-Flint Professor Luke Shaefer
Dr. Luke Shaefer, professor of Public Policy at the University of Michigan who also heads an organization called Poverty Solutions, said the expanded child tax credit is “transformational, critical and amazing for Michigan families.”
Poverty Solutions works with community organizations to find new ways to prevent and alleviate poverty. “The child tax credit can be confusing to families because it’s unlike anything the government has done before at the federal level,” Shaefer said. He added his organization is “here to help families understand the tax credit better.” More information about the Child Tax Credit and Poverty Solutions can be found at www.poverty.umich.edu/child-tax-credit.
“I have been a proponent of the expansion of the child tax credit for years and to see this actually happen and to see the potential for our country has truly been the happiest moment of my professional life,” Shaefer said. “What we’re talking about is a stable cash flow for families.
“This tax credit could reduce child poverty by 45%, among African-American children by 52% and among Native American children by 62%,” he added,
“This new expanded child tax credit will not count against any other assistance or public benefits families may receive – food assistance, housing so this is added money that families can use to help pay rent, pay utility bills buy food whatever they need,” Shaefer said.
Kildee explained the child tax credit is a “mechanism we use in our society to express our values as a society. Tax credits are used to incentivize economic development, to buy electric vehicles, we do it in all sorts of ways.”
EVM Managing Editor Tom Travis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.