Nevada families received $143 million in child tax credit money last month
More than 560,000 children in Nevada benefited from expanded child tax credit payments in July, according to data released by the U.S. Treasury and Internal Revenue Service.
Almost $15 billion in advance child tax credit money was distributed nationwide last month. In Nevada, $143.3 million was distributed to qualified families, representing 330,000 families and 560,000 eligible children.
For 2021, the child tax credit was expanded from $2,000 per child to $3,600 per child under 6 and $3,000 per child 6 and older. Half of the expanded child tax credit is being distributed via advance monthly payments of $250 or $300 per child. Those direct deposit payments and checks began being distributed last month and will continue through December.
The remaining half will be paid in a lump sum when families file their 2021 taxes next spring.
The American Rescue Plan also made the child tax credit fully refundable, meaning previously ineligible low-income families can now benefit. The U.S. Treasury estimates that more than 26 million children nationwide benefitted from that change.
The average child tax credit payment received per qualifying family was $425 in Nevada, according to the IRS. That aligns with the national average payment of $423.
Experts have said the expanded child tax credit has the potential to cut child poverty in half.
A national survey released by the family advocacy nonprofit ParentsTogether Action in advance of the second round of payments found that 79% of parents immediately spent the money they received in July. The three most common things the money was used on: food (48%), utilities (45%) and rent (29%).
More than half (56%) of parents surveyed said the first round of checks reduced their financial anxiety, and 65% said the money will make “a huge difference.” Thirty percent of parents indicated the money “will be helpful but…”
Only 5% of parents said the money wouldn’t make much of a difference.
For Veronica McCullum-Bergeron, a mother of five kids ranging from age 3 to 12, that first monthly payment meant “just getting caught up on bills and trying to maintain stability for my family.”
She says the child tax credit money will help with rising housing and gas costs. McCullum-Bergeron recently reentered the workforce, something experts believe more parents will be able to do with the additional money. Fourteen percent of parents surveyed by ParentsTogether said their July check helped with childcare costs.
In Nevada, childcare on average costs more than college tuition. The average cost of infant care in Nevada is $11,408 annually, or $951 monthly, according to 2019 data.
Alton Pardue, the franchise owner of The Learning Experience daycare on Fort Apache Drive in the southwest part of the Las Vegas Valley, says that an extra $300 monthly can make a significant dent in families’ childcare costs, particularly if they qualify for child care subsidies like those administered by the Urban League. For some families, it may be what makes it financially feasible to work at all.
Nevada has struggled to expand early childhood education and preschool options, though there is some hope that an infusion of federal relief can help.
In the leadup to the first distribution of cash last month, the Internal Revenue Service partnered with organizations across the country, including the Nevada Free Taxes Coalition, to host events designed to help low-income families sign up to receive their money. While most caregivers should receive their money automatically based on their previously filed tax returns, low-income people who do not normally file taxes may have to take additional steps.
The Nevada Free Taxes Coalition, a nonprofit that provides free tax preparation to low- and moderate-income filers, is continuing to offer assistance to anybody who needs help, says program manager Patricia Smith.
Democrats are pushing to make the expanded child tax credit a permanent part of the nation’s tax structure. U.S. Rep. Susie Lee, who previously ran a nonprofit that helps at-risk students, held a press conference Tuesday at The Learning Experience to promote the expected impact of the expanded child tax credit, which she said she prefers to call “a tax cut.”
“So many of the barriers that families faced were obviously economic,” said Lee, referencing her work at Communities in Schools. “When kids are hungry, when they’re worried about having a roof over their head, when parents are stressed about making ends meet, when they’re working four jobs to pay their rent… Things get left behind, and unfortunately many of our children fall behind.”
She continued, “The smartest investment we can always make is an investment in children.”
Making the expanded child tax credit permanent is being considered as part of the upcoming reconciliation bill. Lee acknowledged that negotiations will result in changes to the reconciliation bill but called making the child tax credit permanent “a big priority for many people.”
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