All mothers want their children to have enough to eat, a safe home, and the opportunity to thrive, and the American Rescue Plan’s expanded Child Tax Credit provided critical financial support to help mothers build this solid foundation for their children — but only for 2021. As we celebrate Mother’s Day, Congress should recognize the contributions of mothers by expanding the Child Tax Credit for 2022 and beyond, most importantly by making the full credit available to children in families with low or no earnings, who otherwise get only a partial credit or no credit at all.
Mothers bore the brunt of the additional child caretaking responsibilities created by the pandemic, balancing work, child care, and their children’s schoolwork. Many mothers had to leave their jobs or take unpaid leaveto take care of their children. For example, in June 2021 over 6 million women (and 1 million men) reported not working for pay because they were caring for children not in school or day care, our analysis of the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey shows.
The Rescue Plan was in operation for six months, July to December 2021. ease their financial burdens and stressBy providing monthly payments of the Child Credit Credit up to $300 per child below age 6 (250 for children 6-17). Families with low incomes largely used these payments to pay for everyday expenses — food, housing, clothing, and utilities — as well as education. Roughly 32 million mothers (defined broadly to include grandmothers and other women caring for children) and more than 65 million children benefited from the Rescue Plan’s expanded Child Tax Credit, we estimate. The expansion was ended at the end 2021, leaving mothers with no choice but to face the consequences. rising costsAnd inadequate or unaffordable child careWithout the support that an expanded Child Tax Credit would provide,
The most important feature of the Rescue Plan’s Child Tax Credit expansion was its “full refundability” provision, which made the full credit available to an estimated 12 million mothers and 27 million childrenBecause of their low earnings, families who were previously eligible for no credit or less that $2,000 per child were not eligible for the credit. This included about half the Black and Latino children as well as half of those who live in rural areas. (Other provisions in the Rescue Plan increased the maximum credit value and extended it to 17-year-olds and not just those 16 and under.
Redeeming the credit in full would be an option. reduce child poverty by roughly 20 percentIt helped to lift an estimated 2,000,000 children above the poverty line and assist millions more.
These are just a few examples of the potential impact in 2022.
- A single mother with a toddler and a child in elementary school works part time around her kids’ schedule, earning $15,000 a year as a child care worker. Under current law, she is entitled to a Child Tax Credit of $1.875. If the credit was fully refundable, she would be eligible for a $4,000 credit ($2,000 each child).
- A married mother with a child and a toddler earns $25,000 annually as a home health aide. They are entitled to a Child Tax Credit of 3,000. They would get $4,000. If the credit was fully refundable
Research shows that families with low incomes have more income than they earn, such as through an expanded Child Tax Credit. do better in school and live healthier lives, lifts their earning potential as adults. An expanded Child Tax Credit could acknowledge and support mothers’ efforts every day to provide safety, stability, opportunity, and support.