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Child Tax Credit Expansion Seen as Major Boost for Virginia Families


Wednesday, July 21, 2021   

LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. -- Beginning last week, thousands of Virginia families with children saw more money in their bank accounts as the federal government started distributing Child Tax Credit payments to eligible families.

Vilma Hernandez-Morales is a mother of four with three children younger than 17 who qualify for the monthly payments. A legal resident of Loudoun County, originally from El Salvador, she supports her entire family by babysitting and taking on part-time jobs.

Her daughter Esmirelda said they will use the money for everyday expenses that have piled up during the pandemic.

"The way she will use it will be like, in medical situations, she has to pay for food, for clothing, for supplies," Hernandez-Morales explained.

A year and a half after the pandemic started, many Virginia families sorely need the extra cash, particularly Latino families. About 14% of Virginians with children sometimes or often didn't have enough to eat in the previous week, according to U.S. Census data from June. That number was much worse for Latino families, with almost half reporting not having enough to eat.

Jennifer Lassiter Smith, director of U.S. programs for INMED Partnerships for Children in Loudoun County, pointed out her group is educating low-income families on qualifying for and accessing payments.

She said if taxpayers received refunds deposited to their bank accounts, the payment will automatically show up. But many don't realize if they received an IRS check in the mail, they need to be sure they have registered a forwarding address if they moved since filing tax returns.

"For the people who need it the most, housing has been precarious this year," Lassiter Smith observed. "So if they don't live in the same place now as they did six months ago, then there could be a problem there. So that's another thing that we're letting them know."

The Child Tax Credit expansion is part of President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan, and nearly 1.6 million Virginia kids are expected to benefit.

Experts say the expanded tax credit could cut child poverty in the nation almost in half if it's made permanent. About 85,000 children in Virginia alone would be elevated out of poverty.

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