Released: February 14, 2022
Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05) hosted a press conference with local officials and child and family advocates on Feb. 11 to encourage Pennsylvanians to complete a tax return this year in order to receive their full Child Tax Credit benefits. The Congresswoman was joined by Delaware County Council Chair Dr. Monica Taylor, Community Action Agency of Delaware County CEO Edward Coleman, Campaign for Working Families Director of Volunteer Engagement Jonathan Barnes, The Foundation for Delaware County President Frances Sheehan, and Voices for Children Coalition Advocacy Director Elisha Arnold Coffey at the event hosted outside Delaware County Courthouse in Media.
The American Rescue Plan, which became law in March 2021, provided a third stimulus check and three major tax cuts for working families, including transformational changes to the Child Tax Credit. It increased the maximum credit amount to $3,600 per child for kids ages 0 to 5 and $3,000 per child for kids ages 6 to 17. The economic relief bill also made the Child Tax Credit fully refundable for 2021 — meaning even families with $0 in income last year can claim the Child Tax Credit if they have qualifying children.
Improvements made to the Child Tax Credit under the American Rescue Plan are currently only valid for tax year 2021, so it is more important than ever for families to claim the benefits they are entitled to.
“The words exciting and tax credit don’t usually belong in the same sentence, but the expanded Child Tax Credit is different,” said Rep. Scanlon. “It has helped households across the country close gaps in the family budget — and in doing so has also reduced child poverty by almost half. The monthly payments that were distributed fin 2021 have proven to be extremely beneficial as families recover and rebuild from the pandemic, but there is still money on the table. I don’t want a single eligible family in my district to miss out on their opportunity to collect. I urge families in PA-05 and across Pennsylvania to file their 2021 tax return as soon as possible to claim their Child Tax Credit and to take advantage of the free tax preparation services that are available to many of them based on income.”
Between July and December 2021, millions of families received monthly advance payments of the Child Tax Credit. According to Columbia University, these monthly payments helped reduce food insecurity, and families overwhelmingly spent the money on food and other basic needs. More than 1.3 million payments per month were authorized by the American Rescue Plan to hardworking families across Pennsylvania. Within Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional District, which Congresswoman Scanlon represents, over 76,000 families received the monthly payments. Now, those families must file a 2021 tax return in order to receive the rest of their credit. Eligible families that did not receive advance payments can claim the full credit amount when they file a 2021 tax return.
“We know that while many families were able to take advantage of the monthly Child Tax Credit payments in 2021, there are so many more that did not — or may not have even known they are eligible,” said Dr. Monica Taylor, Chair, Delaware County Council. “We want parents and caregivers to know there are organizations with resources and expertise to help ensure these tax credits are accessible and that they are distributed equitably. We know there is need in Delaware County, and County Council is happy to be able to meet that need by supporting programs that will connect our residents to the Child Tax Credit and other resources.”
Edward Coleman, CEO, Community Action Agency of Delaware County added: “Thanks to funding from Delaware County Council, Community Action Agency for Delaware County is able to add more Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites, staff, and volunteers this year to increase outreach and the number of applications we can process. This tax season, our agency will operate fives sites including our Boothwyn Multi-Service Center and locations in Media, Upper Darby, Darby, and the City of Chester.”
“Campaign for Working Families has sites around Philadelphia and Montgomery County. We also offer a virtual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) option for folks who are unable to travel to a local site for whatever reason,” noted Jonathan Barnes, Director of Volunteer Engagement, Campaign for Working Families. “Users connect to our services through the internet, upload their paperwork, and then we go through the same process that would happen at a physical VITA site. Residents can access this service through cwfphilly.org.”
Frances Sheehan, President, The Foundation for Delaware County commented: “The expanded Child Tax Credit has been crucial to lifting families out of poverty and helping them live healthier lives. In collaboration with our partners, we are committed to making sure all eligible families can benefit from this program. We're spreading the word by providing outreach to clients visiting our WIC offices and receiving home visiting services from our Healthy Start and Nurse-Family Partnership teams to make sure they’re aware of the Child Tax Credit. We’re educating all our workers to stress to our clients the need to file a tax return so they can receive their benefits as soon as possible. We’re also passing this critical information along to the many nonprofits we support.”
“This is not a gift from the government that people are using for fun,” said Elisha Arnold Coffey, Advocacy Director, Voices for Children Coalition. “The Child Tax Credit benefits lots of families at a level of basic need. Many families are using this money for child care, housing, utilities, and food. The Child Tax Credit is part of ensuring that as a country we are stronger in the future because of how we decide to take care of our children today.”
Anyone, including grandparents, who are legal guardians of children under 18 may be eligible for the Child Tax Credit. All eligible families can receive the full credit if they made up to $150,000 for a married couple or $112,500 for a family with a single parent in 2021. Above these income thresholds, the amount of the credit is gradually reduced.
The Child Tax Credit, including monthly payments in 2021, is not taxable. Claiming the credit also does not impact eligibility for or lower the amount of other federal benefits. It has no effect on immigration status, ability to get a green card, or future eligibility for immigration benefits.
Additional information about eligibility and claiming the credit is available at ChildTaxCredit.gov.
Tips for Tax Season
The 2022 tax filing season is now open and closes on April 18.
The IRS is encouraging people to file electronically and as early as possible.
Opting for direct deposit will help taxpayers get any refunds faster.
The IRS Free File Program is available to tax filers who earned $73,000 or less in 2021.
The IRS runs two programs that offer FREE tax help for taxpayers who qualify: Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE).
Visit the IRS website (irs.gov) for free services, helpful checklists, and FAQs.
Photos from today’s press conference are available here.