Tens of millions of U.S. households will begin receiving monthly checks of up to $300 per child starting July 15, President Joe Biden’s administration announced Monday.
The checks are the result of a boosted child tax credit program Democrats included in the American Rescue Plan, the $2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill Biden signed into law in March.
The law not only boosted the benefit amount for families making $150,000 or less, but also told the IRS to pay the money in advance, essentially transforming the credit into a monthly child allowance.
Families with a joint income of less than $150,000 will receive $3,600 per child under the age of 6, and up to $3,000 for children between 6 and 17 years old in 2021. Distributed monthly, this means eligible families will receive up to $300 per month for each child under age 6 and up to $250 per month
for each child age 6 and above.
Two-earner households earning up to $400,000 annually would still receive periodic payments as well, totaling $2,000 per child.
These checks come on top of three rounds of stimulus payments to Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Direct cash assistance programs like the stimulus checks and boosted unemployment insurance were attributed to keeping millions of Americans out of poverty during the pandemic.
The checks for parents will be paid through direct deposit, paper check or debit card and sent out on the 15th of every month, the IRS said Monday.
The payments are expected to reach 39 million American households, covering 88 percent of children in the United States, according to the Department of the Treasury.
This policy will significantly reduce child poverty in the United States — not only because of the increased dollar amount, but also because the law removed of the income-based phase-in for the benefit. In other words, Americans don’t need to have any income in order to qualify for the monthly payments.
But the American Rescue Plan expanded the program only for 2021. Parents will stop receiving these checks after this year if Congress doesn’t pass another bill to continue them.
Already the Biden administration has called on Congress to extend the program through 2025 in its “American Families Plan” proposal, a four-year extension that would significantly cut childhood poverty in the United States.
A group of Democratic lawmakers including Reps. Suzan DelBene (Wash.), Rosa DeLauro (Conn.) and Ritchie Torres (N.Y.), along with Sens. Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Cory Booker (N.J.) and Michael Bennet (Col.), has been lobbying Biden to agree to a permanent expansion of the child tax credit.
They called the program “the most significant policy to come out of Washington in generations, and Congress has an historic opportunity to provide a lifeline to the middle class and to cut child poverty in half on a permanent basis,” in a statement last month.
Republicans doubled the child tax credit in their Tax Cuts And Jobs Act to $2,000 a year through 2025, opting to sunset the program alongside a long list of other individual tax cuts.
The Biden administration appears to be sticking to that same 2025 timeline, in large part to keep the overall cost of the “Families Plan” down. The checks will cover roughly 65 million children, and will cost roughly $100 billion a year.