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File taxes, access child credit

State Rep. Joe Hohenstein

State Rep. Joe Hohenstein and U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean last week discussed the importance of saving the expanded child tax credit during a virtual news conference with For Our Future PA and the 99% Pennsylvania.

The news conference coincides with tax filing season and the relaunch of a revamped website – ChildTaxCredit.gov – to help people file their taxes and access the remainder or the full amount of the tax credit.

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The Feb. 8 news conference took place on the White House and Treasury’s Child Tax Credit/Earned Income Tax Credit Day of Action, a nationwide effort to raise awareness about the website and get more Americans educated about the money they are entitled to. The tax filing deadline is April 18.

Hohenstein supports the tax credit because it puts money directly in the pockets of people who need it most, to spend as they see best. While he opposes many tax credits because he believes they favor the rich, he said the child tax credit helps families get out of poverty.

Hohenstein said the money spent by families helps the economy, and considers the tax credit a good complement to the increased unemployment compensation during the pandemic.

Hohenstein has argued that state legislative Republicans have directed too much money into the Rainy Day Fund, while he supports investments for people in need. Similarly, he thinks the expanded child tax credit is perfect for families on month-to-month budgets for food, rent and mortgage payments and transportation.

Dean, who thanked Hohenstein for helping to spend federal dollars wisely, described the tax credit as a “lifeline” for working families during the pandemic, lifting many out of poverty. A one-year extension, she said, would help parents better afford child care, keep their jobs, pay rent and utilities and have the chance to further their education.

Dean, who welcomes calls about the tax credit to her office at 215-884-3640, encouraged families to reach out to their state and federal representatives to tell their stories about needing assistance to pay for school supplies and food for their kids.

The credit is not a giveaway, Dean said. Instead, the money makes a difference in people’s lives and benefits everyone.

“It goes right back into the economy and fuels the economy,” she said.

The Senate hasn’t passed the Build Back Better Act, which could include a one-year extension of the enhanced tax credit. The roadblock is West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who believes the pricey tax credit will increase the deficit and worsen inflation.

Critics also say an extended, expanded tax credit would discourage people from looking for jobs.

Supporters remain hopeful.

“Build Back Better is not dead,” said Jeff Garis, coordinator of the 99% Pennsylvania, a campaign of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.

Ashley McBride, director of For Our Future PA, said the child tax credit helps people pay bills on time to avoid late fees. Her organization contends that ending the tax credit will put more than 200,000 Pennsylvania children into poverty, remove more than $500 million from the state economy and reduce the average Pennsylvania family’s annual income by more than $5,000.

What the supporters of an extended, expanded child tax credit didn’t say on the virtual news conference is that families could use the money because of the sky-high inflation Americans are experiencing under the Biden administration.

According to the White House, parents can receive up to $3,600 per child 17 and under. Families can receive the full non-taxable credit if they made less than $150,000 for a married couple or $112,500 for a single parent in 2021. ••

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