August, 2021 – Many eligible Mainers not receiving child tax credit

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As the second round of payments from the expanded child tax credit hits bank accounts today, nearly half of Mainers who are likely eligible for the benefit report not having yet received their first payment last month.

In a poll conducted at the end of July by the Maine People’s Resource Center, 52% of Mainers who have children at home and who meet income criteria for the child tax credit said they received the first payment last month. 48% said they had not or weren’t sure if they had.

Of those who are likely eligible who hadn’t yet received the first tax credit payment, 31% said they believed their family was not eligible and 17% weren’t sure of their eligibility.

Families that were likely eligible but said they had not received the first child tax credit payment reported lower household incomes and lower levels of education than other respondents.

The full survey has a sample size of 528 and a statistical margin of error of +/- 4.3% at the 95% confidence level.

These results echo similar research on the national level that has found significant confusion among families around whether or not they are eligible for the credits.

Most at risk are those families who may need the support the most, with the IRS less likely to have the information needed to issue credits to low-income families.

“It’s important that Maine parents know they can get this money to support their kids. Even if you don’t make enough to file taxes, you can submit your information through an online portal and receive the benefit,” said Maine People’s Alliance co-director Amy Halsted. “By expanding the child tax credit, we have a chance to cut child poverty nearly in half and improve the lives of millions of kids. That only works if those who need the money the most are able to get it.”

The maximum benefit of the fully refundable child tax credits, which were expanded through the American Rescue Plan, is $3,600 per child, half of which is sent in six monthly $300 payments to eligible families. The full payment is available for families with children under the age of 18 earning up to $75,000 in adjusted gross income for single filers and $150,000 for couples filing jointly. The credit is reduced by $50 for every $1,000 over those income thresholds.

“Congress should build on the progress we’ve already seen, make this expansion of the child tax credit permanent and include an outreach plan to low-income families who do not ordinarily have to file taxes in order to make sure the money goes where it’s most needed,” said Halsted.