Child Tax Credit 2021: Here’s how families say they’ll use “basic income for kids”

Sidewalk chalk drawings by parents and children to celebrate new monthly Child Tax Credit payments, and urging Congress to make them permanent, outside the home of New York state Senator Charles Schumer on July 12, 2021, in Brooklyn, New York. BRYAN BEDDER/GETTY IMAGES FOR PARENTSTOGETHER)

Starting Thursday, the parents of 60 million U.S. children on Thursday began receiving monthly checks through the expanded federal Child Tax Credit. What lessons can be learned for UBI?


The parents of 60 million U.S. children on Thursday began receiving monthly checks through the expanded federal Child Tax Credit, a historic relief measure geared toward families of modest means. The money is sorely needed given the ongoing financial stresses from the pandemic, some parents told CBS MoneyWatch.

How people might use the funds has sparked debate, with some critics calling it a “middle-class boondoggle” or worrying that it might discourage low-income parents from seeking work. Proponents say the measure is essential at a time households face rising prices on groceries, gas and other necessities as well as the lingering financial impact of the pandemic. 

Seven parents who spoke with CBS MoneyWatch said they plan to spend the money on goods and services for their children, ranging from back-to-school supplies to extras like gymnastics classes for a teenager with aspirations of joining her high school cheerleading team. Many also expressed hope that the monthly payments would continue beyond December, when the last check is due to hit accounts. 

“Right now, I was in a desperate situation, wondering would I get his back-to-school stuff or food,” said India Hatcher, 37, a police dispatcher who lives in Atlanta and is receiving $250 per month under the CTC for her 11-year-old son. “I can get his uniforms, his supplies and it helps — it’s not a million dollars, but for some people, like myself, that doesn’t have anybody, it’s very helpful.”

The IRS said it sent out $15 billion in CTC checks on Thursday, with almost 9 of 10 of the payments directly deposited in recipients’ bank accounts. Eligible families with children under 6 will get $300 per child, while families with children ages 6 to 17 will receive $250. 

Some households risk missing out on the payments, especially low-income families who aren’t required to file federal income tax returns. The IRS is relying on tax filings to determine eligibility.

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