Since July, roughly 61 million eligible children have benefited from the expanded Child Tax Credit.
When COVID-19 first struck Virginia in March 2020, single mother Lindsay Mummert faced hardship after hardship, losing her vehicle, as well as her home.
Mummert moved in with her mother, but the house wasn’t deemed large enough to accommodate everyone. The single mom made the difficult decision to sign over custody of her son in order for him to have proper arrangements.
For about a year, the situation looked bleak — not only for Mummert, but for many American households with children. Back in March, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) of 2021. Among a plethora of additional aid to the American people, the act included an expansion to the Child Tax Credit (CTC).
The expansion not only upped the amount families would receive back on their taxes, but also gave households the option to receive an advance payment of up to $300 per child in the form of a direct monthly deposit. Since the first payment hit bank accounts in July, approximately 1.6 million children in Virginia benefited, including Mummert’s family.
“The Child Tax Credit helped me pay extra rent, and I was able to get [my son] back,” Mummert said. “I think it makes way bigger differences than a lot of people think, even outside of food and bills. It brought my family back together. Now I have reliable transportation and we’re finally getting back to kind of where we were before COVID,” she said.
The fate of the expanded CTC currently hangs in the balance. Extending the credit in 2022 is part of Biden’s Build Back Better (BBB) plan, but that has yet to reach a vote in Congress. If the BBB doesn’t pass, the Dec. 15 deposit will be the last, as the monthly payments end.
Coming to a Close?
Mummert’s son is among the roughly 61 million eligible children who could go without the expanded CTC next year if Congress doesn’t act quickly.
“It does make me emotional, obviously, the thought of being anxious of losing it,” Mummert said. “It tremendously helped my family and brought us back together. It helped me meet the odds and ends that I was not able to meet before. I would hate to see it go.”
Mummert shared her story along with several Virginia parents, including Abbey Conley, Ashley Smith, Marques Jones, and Victor McKenzie at a Dec. 14 CTC press conference held at a Richmond playground, alongside local leaders and activists.
For Conley, the pandemic brought about a major life change. With no childcare options available to her 4-year-old son, Conley had no choice but to stop working — but getting Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) wasn’t a quick and easy process.
“Things got very tight,” Conley said.
Then the Child Tax Credit came.
“To have that dependable amount of money coming in has changed things,” she said.
From paying higher-than-normal utility bills to providing extra socialization opportunities for her child, the CTC made a positive impact in the family’s life.
Like many parents, Conley expressed concern over what might happen if the monthly payments end in 2021. She’s been looking for another job, but finding one that correlates with her son’s preschool hours and in a competitive market hasn’t been easy.
“[The CTC has] definitely been very helpful for me and I’m sure many other families,” Conley said. “I’m not sure what we’re going to do if it doesn’t continue.”
Benefits of the Child Tax Credit
It’s hard to imagine now, but the Child Tax Credit hasn’t always been around. Historically speaking, it didn’t come into existence until 24 years ago, as part of the the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney remembered growing up without the credit with his grandmother as his sole provider.
“I remember when she received her social security check every month, about $1,600 every month,” Stoney said. “[She used the money] to feed her whole entire family — three, sometimes five people — and making that stretch for an entire month [was] very, very difficult. Everything from paying rent, but also putting food on the table as well.”
The mayor called the expanded CTC “essential” for many families.
“Everyone, and I mean everyone, should have the means to care for their families,” Stoney said. “The CTC ensured that economic recovery is felt by everyone. From working families struggling with basic needs like food, rent, and bills, to middle class families that need help with childcare and college savings.”
Emily Griffey, chief policy officer at Voices for Virginia’s Children, also weighed in on the benefits the CTC offered American families.
“Equity is baked into this policy to ensure that economically disadvantaged families, Black, and Brown families are able to benefit from the Child Tax Credit,” Griffey said.
She also noted that the credit was about more than simply putting money in people’s pockets.
“This is about economic stability and security for families,” Griffey said.
Congress has until Dec. 28 to pass the Build Back Better Act, which would further extend the expanded CTC.