A Coalition of Mothers Urge Biden: Make the Child Tax Credit Permanent

Marshall Plan for Moms, Magnolia Mother’s Trust and Income Movement have organized 50 women from 50 states to advocate for the extension of the child tax credit.

The expansion of the child tax credit has been supported by Biden and politicians on both sides of the aisle. But there is no certainty the child tax credit will continue past December. (Bob Simpson / Flickr)

Starting on Thursday, July 15, the Treasury Department will begin to send monthly payments of up to $300 to families as part of the child tax credit (CTC), a provision of Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan signed into law in March. Those eligible for full payment include single taxpayer families earning up to $75,000 and joint taxpayer families earning up to $150,000 who have children 17 years old or younger. 

The IRS says approximately 36 million households qualify for the CTC monthly payments. However, only 40 to 50 percent of the individuals who are eligible for CTC know about the legislation, according to Stacey Rutland, founder and president of Income Movement Foundation. And since the CTC was expanded only in response to COVID-19, that extra income comes with an end date: December. (Check if you’re eligible for the CTC payments and provide the IRS with the information needed to receive it.)

In response, Marshall Plan for Moms, Magnolia Mother’s Trust and Income Movement have coordinated a letter to the White House asking the government to permanently expand the CTC—signed by 50 mothers from all 50 states, including D.C.

“We felt that it was really critical that we elevated the voices of women,” said Rutland. “It was a significant outpouring of our community saying that they’d love to be involved. So it was actually very quick and pretty easy to find people in our community who were both excited about the child tax credit but also wanted to make sure that they could help drive the narrative about why it should be made permanent.”

A family participating in the The Magnolia Mother’s Trust, the first guaranteed income initiative that specifically focuses on Black women living in deep poverty in affordable housing in the U.S. (Kellogg Foundation)

The implementation of CTC will be incredibly important as women, especially mothers, were hit hard by COVID-related job losses. This is largely due to the caregiving crisis in the United States, where women more often assume the primary caretaker role in heterogeneous households.

The expansion of CTC has been supported by the Biden administration as well as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle (though, notably, the American Rescue Plan passed Congress without any support from GOP lawmakers.) But there is no certainty that CTC will continue past December.

Though the pandemic may have exacerbated the caregiving crisis and the finances of working- and middle- class families, the caregiving crisis was not caused by COVID-19.

“We know that the markers that our society, that our leadership, uses to determine whether or not we have a healthy economy—things like unemployment rates, and inflation rates and all of those things—usually don’t actually reflect what’s happening down on the ground with individuals,” said Rutland. “And so we’re worried that if [CTC] is temporary, and when the standard traditional markers for our economy say that we’re now healthy, that somehow our elected officials are going to think that everything’s okay for families and we know they’re not because pre-pandemic they weren’t.”

One of the letter’s signatories is Latha Srinivasan, a mother to two children living in Ohio. She told Ms. that when her husband was injured on the job five years ago, “it was a clear worker’s comp—but his employer didn’t think so. The rules are, if you’re fighting over whether or not something is covered, your salary is stopped with no notice. We lost half of our income. Actually, that’s not even true. We lost more than half because his salary was higher than mine. With no warning.” 

Srinivasan’s family was “sent into a tailspin.” The disagreement between her husband and his employer continued for eight months—eight months Srinivasan wished she could have had CTC.

Sarah Gold, a mother to three children living in Los Angeles who also signed the letter, similarly believes CTC is needed beyond the pandemic. “We need [CTC] to keep going. … We really need help. It’s time for all of us to start asking for help because women never ask for help. We try to do everything on our own. But I think in this time and age after the pandemic, I think it’s time that the government sees us moms. And it’s time for them to help us,” Gold told Ms.

Without the financial support of CTC, Gold said she will continue to have to make difficult decisions between basic necessities for her family. “It doesn’t make sense how governments treat us, I’m blown away. … We want to work, you know? I always worked before having children. But after having children, you have to debate what’s best for the family, financially. And also mentally, because if you are not happy being a stay-at-home mom, and you want to go to work, it’s difficult because you’re going to go work to pay for child care.”

According to Gold, child care for her 2-year-old daughter is $1,380 per month, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. “$300 is a good start, and it’ll be a great help, [but CTC] should become permanent. Because if you want a woman or female in the workforce, you need to give us more paychecks or help with child care.”

The problem, says Srinivasan, is that we “live in a society that systemically benefits men and systemically does not benefit women. … We’ve taken a lot of steps to try to reduce that disparity, but we’re still a long way from doing that.”

Rutland hopes the letter to the Biden administration will demonstrate how “women are consistently pushed to the side, where they’re the first to have to sacrifice, the first to have to make compromises in order for the health of their family, the health of their families and kids to be prioritized” but also how the extension of CTC will help “take this moment into the future.”

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Juliet Schulman-Hall is an editorial fellow for Ms. and a senior at Smith College. She is majoring in English language & literature, minoring in sociology, and concentrating in poetry. Her beats include America's health care system, disability, global politics and climate change, and criminal justice reform and abolition. Follow her @jschulmanhall