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Child tax credit checks are on the way

BURLINGTON/LINCOLN — “There are too many families in Vermont and throughout this country, who are struggling to raise their kids,” said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in a newsletter issued last week meant to alert Vermonters of the expansion of the Child Tax Credit made in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). 

The expansion of the Child Tax Credits will begin issuing checks July 15.

ARPA’s expanded Child Tax Credit targets two income brackets: single parents making $112,500 or less per year, and married couples earning less than $150,000. The benefits will be given in monthly payments over the next six months of $250 for each child age 6-17 and $300 per child younger than six. The rest of the tax relief will go to next year’s tax returns.

“Before its expansion, the Child Tax Credit was up to $2,000 per child 17 and under annually,” said Freeland Ellis, an aide in Sanders’s Burlington office. “With the expansion, it is now $3,600 for each child under age 6 and $3,000 for each child aged 6-17. Roughly 39 million households, or 65 million children, will be impacted by the Child Tax Credit.”

Similar to families throughout the United States, many Vermont families are going to be covered by the new tax provision: An estimated 143,000 children and their families in Vermont will be assisted by the tax credit. 

Sanders’s office expressed hopes that the tax credit plan will become a long-term measure for American families instead of just a monetary Band-Aid in light of the economic decline caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. If it is made permanent, then next year it would be paid out monthly for all 12 months, rather than just six months as it was this year.

The Sanders aide compared ARPA’s Child Tax Credit, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden, to legislation enacted during the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson.

“Making permanent the Child Tax Credit expansion would be transformative for American families and would represent one of the most important economic justice victories since the Great Society of the 1960s,” Ellis said.

Making it permanent, however, is no sure thing. Sanders’s office is concerned that Republicans in Congress will stonewall efforts to make the Child Tax Credit expansion permanent, but noted the bipartisan popular appeal of the measure and maintains high hopes it could be adopted.

LOCAL IMPACT

Lincoln resident Shawna Ploof, a mother with two children at the Bristol Family Center daycare, is grateful and relieved ARPA’s Child Tax Credit provision will soon kick in.

“I plan to use that money toward childcare,” Ploof said. “My child will be going to kindergarten this fall, so the tax credit will bridge some of that gap to cover how much that turns out to be.

“I think as a person working in early education we’re not paid super well as far as the work we do,” Ploof said. “Having the opportunity to have some additional paid childcare is pretty expensive, so having access to some additional funds definitely helps the budget.”

Ploof, who works as a teacher at her kids’ daycare, emphasized that her work gives her a direct view of some of the main beneficiaries of the Child Tax Credit’s expansion under ARPA.

“As a teacher here, giving children some time and care is essential,” Ploof said. “We have a diverse set of families at Bristol Family Center so the tax credit can easily benefit everybody and help get food on the table or clothes on (a child’s) back because (taking care of a child) is extremely expensive.”

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