Stimulus Update: 1 Million More Children Could Be in Line for Child Tax Credit if This Change Goes Through

Smiling parents playing with their young children in a preschool classroom.

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Lawmakers are pushing to make the credit applicable to more children.

So far, three monthly installment payments of the expanded Child Tax Credit have hit Americans' bank accounts. Those monthly payments are set to arrive for the rest of the year and represent half of the boosted credit, with the remaining half to be paid in 2022 with tax refunds.

The boosted Child Tax Credit has already done a great job of helping fewer families experience issues with food insecurity. And it's helped many families shore up their finances and cover their household needs.

Right now, the Child Tax Credit is worth up to $3,600 for children under the age of 6, and up to $3,000 for those aged 6 to 17. It's an improvement over the $2,000 cap that applied to the credit before March's American Rescue Plan enhanced it.

Furthermore, the Child Tax Credit used to only be payable as a single lump sum. And, only $1,400 of it was refundable so that if a taxpayer owed the IRS no money, they wouldn't get the full credit paid to them.

Now, the Child Tax Credit is completely refundable. And while half of it is being paid as a single lump sum, the fact that the remaining half is coming in monthly installments has been extremely helpful in improving a lot of families' cash flow.

Now, lawmakers are fighting to make sure that everyone who stands to benefit from the Child Tax Credit gets the money they're entitled to. And one change could make the credit more accessible to another million children.

Expanding eligibility

Democratic lawmakers have proposed making the Child Tax Credit available to children with individual taxpayer identification numbers, or ITINs. Normally, only children with Social Security numbers are eligible for tax credits like the Child Tax Credit, but this change would allow more undocumented children and their families to receive that benefit. All told, 1 million more children could be in line for Child Tax Credit payments if that change goes through, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

Other changes are in the works

In addition to fighting to make the Child Tax Credit more accessible, lawmakers are also fighting to keep it fully refundable on a permanent basis. So far this year, the fully-refundable nature of the credit has helped 27 million children who previously got no credit or a partial credit see extra cash come in.

The current version of the Child Tax Credit, which includes a higher value, fully-refundable payments, and installment payments, is only applicable to the current tax year. Come next year, the credit is set to revert to its former state unless lawmakers are successful in extending the current setup.

Leaving the current version of the credit in place has the potential to significantly slash the poverty rate among children, which is why lawmakers are advocating for it. In fact, if the credit were to revert to its former state, much of the progress that's been made thus far in helping families with children attain financial stability would likely be reversed.

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