U.S. families fear hunger after child tax credit expires

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US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer holds a press conference on expanding child tax credit payments at the United States Capitol in Washington, United States on July 15, 2021. REUTERS / Kevin Lamarque / File Photo

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WASHINGTON, Dec.20 (Reuters) – Phone calls from nonprofit health care families in Yvonka Hall in northeast Ohio begging for help to feed their children began in March 2020 and failed slowed down only when an expanded child tax credit went into effect last summer.

Now Hall fears the calls will escalate again as US lawmakers wrangle over the renewal of this program which expired after making the last payments on December 15, though he has been credited with helping out million poor children.

“It’s easy when you make $ 200,000 a year to trample on someone who can make $ 10,000 a year,” Hall said, referring to the annual salaries of $ 174,000 earned by members of Congress.

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The expanded monthly child tax credit payments of $ 300 for each child under 6, and $ 250 for children 6 to 17, lifted some 3.6 million American children out of poverty in October, according to a study from Columbia University.

“It made our families able to live,” Hall said.

The Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition in Cleveland, of which Hall is the executive director, has had to start setting aside $ 10,000 per month to fund an ad hoc food bank since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the expanded monthly child tax credit payments took effect, calls to the ad hoc food bank declined and many families were able to move into better, more stable housing.

Hopes for a one-year extension faded on Sunday after moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said he would not vote for President Joe Biden’s $ 1.75 trillion “Build Back Better” program. which includes the tax credit provision.

In doing so, he joined Republicans who are in total opposition to Biden’s plan, wanting a reduced child tax credit instead.

“INFLATIONARY BOMB”

Republicans oppose the size of the credit, as well as the Democrats’ goal to tie it to the $ 1.75 trillion “Build Back Better” program.

Senator Lindsey Graham, the senior Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, called the Democrats’ tax credit provision an “inflation bomb.”

Without the expanded tax credit, the Poor Families program reverts to a lump sum payment that families must file an income tax return to claim, and a reduction to $ 2,000 per year per child, from $ 3,600 this year. . The Treasury Department estimated in June that families with up to 2.3 million children did not file in 2019 or 2020 because their income was below the reporting threshold.

This poses a problem for Tiquanda Newton, a 43-year-old mother with daughters aged 21, 17, 7 and 4.

“I walk into the store and have to figure out who gets what and who doesn’t get what. The truth is, I don’t get it. I just make sure I stay hydrated,” Newton said in a phone interview. with her. home in New Haven, Connecticut.

Newton has been unemployed since the birth of his 7-year-old child and has guardianship of his eldest daughter, who suffers from a permanent disability.

A broken radiator in her car goes unrepaired, and she despairs of the rising costs of basic items like food and school supplies.

“These babies are growing faster than we can even buy clothes,” she said.

Despite the failed negotiations, “the fight to adopt Build Back Better is not over,” said Rosa DeLauro, chair of the House Appropriations program, a leading advocate for maintaining the expanded tax credit.

Already, there have been hints Democrats may cut the $ 1.75 billion plan to win the support of Manchin and Democratic Senator Krysten Sinema, who together oppose various parts of the bill.

Meanwhile, Mary Beth Cochran, 52, fears she will have to quit her job in western North Carolina if the expanded tax credit wears off and she can no longer afford the used car she has it purchased with additional federal funding.

“I’m not asking for handouts,” she said. “This money should help us fend for ourselves so that our children do not have to struggle.”

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Reporting by Moira Warburton, Richard Cowan and Jonelle Marte in Washington; Editing by Scott Malone and Howard Goller

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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