As the White House American Rescue Plan (ARP) Coordinator, I’m deeply grateful for the critical partnership we’ve had with America’s mayors and city leaders on ensuring help is on the way to all of our people. Critical to those efforts have been the discussions we have had with members of the National League of Cities to help shape and promote effective implementation of the American Rescue Plan’s programs.
That is why I want to reach out to you today to ask you to join us on June 21, 2021 for the Biden-Harris Child Tax Credit Awareness Day. There is no more important part of the American Rescue Plan for providing support for nearly all working families and for cutting childhood poverty than the historic expansion of the 2021 Child Tax Credit. The American Rescue Plan’s expansion of the Child Tax Credit:
- Increased the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child for children over the age of six and raised the age limit from 16 to 17;
- Increased the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 to $3,600 for children under the age of six. This means a married couple with $95,000 in income and two children under the age of six will receive a 2021 Child Tax Credit of $7,200—an increase of $3,200 thanks to the American Rescue Plan.
- Ensured for the first time that even the lowest-income families will get the same full tax credit as more affluent families. This has the potential to help cut child poverty in half.
- First time, monthly payments: Normally, tax relief only comes the following year when you file your taxes, no matter how much you need it now. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, for the first time, people will begin to receive their 2021 Child Tax Credit in monthly payments.
Starting July 15, most families will get $250 each month for every child 6-17 years old and $300 each month for every child under 6 years old. With these new, historic payments approaching, it is time to get the word out to all families that help is here.
On Monday, June 21st, the Biden-Harris Administration is encouraging all elected officials and other stakeholders to join us in Child Tax Credit Awareness Day: This is a day of action to get the word out far and wide on the new monthly payments included in the American Rescue Plan to help both middle-class and the most hard-pressed families make ends meet and to be able to care for their children with security and dignity. Child Tax Credit Awareness Day will:
- Ensure Americans know about this major tax relief—$3,000 to $3,600 per child—for nearly all families.
- Promote the need to extend these benefits for years and years as the President has proposed in his American Families Plan.
- Help give children a lifeline out of poverty by assisting eligible low-income families—who may have such low-incomes that they are not required to file taxes—in signing up for Child Tax Credit benefits using a new, simple sign-up tool.
ChildTaxCredit.gov: The Biden-Harris Administration has launched ChildTaxCredit.gov as a one-stop tool for all who need information on the Child Tax Credit and to provide simple instruction– in both English and Spanish – and a link for those seeking to sign-up for the first time.
Local leaders are encouraged to join the Administration on June 21st in raising awareness, holding events, launching outreach campaigns, and announcing new actions and partnerships so that all children benefit from the historic expansion of the Child Tax Credit.
While most families will automatically benefit, local leaders have a critical role to play in the effort to ensure all eligible families get the benefits they are eligible for, cutting poverty in their communities. Such leaders could commit to:
Raising Awareness Through Your Office and Official Communication Channels:
- On June 21, launch a campaign on Child Tax Credit Awareness Day with a press conference or op-ed in your local news outlet.
- Announce future actions you will take to promote the understanding and sign-ups for the child tax credit.
- Add a hyperlink to childtaxcredit.gov on your online landing pages, your e-mail signatures and your newsletters, or other messaging channels
- Lift up the #ChildTaxCredit on Social Media. Look out for social media posts from Administration officials using the #ChildTaxCredit hashtag to retweet and amplify—or to emulate and send out—from your own accounts.
Leveraging Program Data and Partnerships to Target Outreach and to Hard-Pressed Families:
- Identify the families least likely to be receiving Child Tax Credit benefits. Where possible, and appropriate, use administrative data from locally-run assistance programs to identify families with children whose incomes may not have been high enough to have had to file taxes in recent years—and provide them information about the simple, non-filer sign-up tool so they don’t miss out on benefits.
- Help families seeking help. Provide families applying for or receiving locally-administered benefits with information about the new monthly Child Tax Credit benefits and—if they haven’t filed taxes in recent years or received stimulus payments—assistance signing up. If running online application portals, include information on the Child Tax Credit and a link to www.childtaxcredit.gov, or include messages about the Child Tax Credit in call center recordings. If appropriate, add Child Tax Credit-related messages to the scripts or checklists that public workers use when they sign up or check-in with families in their programs.
- Reach families where they live. Mayors could partner with local public housing authorities to post flyers and deliver letters on the expanded Child Tax Credit.
Partnering with Schools:
- Work with local school leaders to send notices and emails home to parents with information on Child Tax Credit benefits and how to sign-up.
- Make Child Tax Credit awareness, and assistance signing-up, part of back-to-school events (e.g. have members of community organizations available to help walk parents through the non-filer sign-up process or collect contact information to follow-up with interested parents at a later date)
- Include information on the Child Tax Credit as part of new school year enrollment or welcome packages and bring in trusted volunteers to run sign-up drives at drop-off and pick-up during the first weeks of school.
Engaging Communities with Trusted Messengers:
- Host a meeting with community pediatricians and ask them to provide Child Tax Credit information to the families they see
- Equip local staff directly working with families and children (e.g. Parks and Rec, community ambassadors, COVID Vaccine Ambassadors) with a Child Tax Credit toolkit or partner with the organizations and entities outside of government that reach the most vulnerable families and children in your communities.
- Engage your community’s summer feeding programs, food banks, and local Housing Authorities in an outreach campaign or partner with child care centers in low-income communities to provide information and materials on the child tax credit to families.
Ultimately, local leaders know their communities best. As the Administration prepares for a day of action, we want to know your plans to raise awareness on Monday and beyond. Local leaders can email IGA46@who.eop.gov, or send me a message on Twitter at @GeneSperling46 letting us know how you are raising Child Tax Credit Awareness in your communities. Thank you again for your continued partnership.
About the Author:
Gene Sperling is the White House ARP Coordinator and Senior Advisor to the President.