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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

ME Parents, Advocates: Make Expanded Child Tax Credit Permanent

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Thursday, July 22, 2021   

AUGUSTA, Maine -- Parents are now receiving fully refundable monthly 2021 Advance Child Tax Credit payments, and advocates for children and families have urged Congress to make them permanent.

Nearly one in four Maine families reported difficulty paying for usual household expenses in the last week.

The expansion increased the credit to $3,000 annually per child age 6 and up, and $3,600 for kids 5 and younger.

Melissa Hackett, communications and policy associate for the Maine Children's Alliance, pointed to research that shows 90% of Maine kids will benefit each year from permanent expansion.

"In terms of the specific number of kids that will be lifted above the poverty line, if we were to make this expansion permanent, we're looking at around 10,000 children," Hackett reported. "That would be a reduction by 45% of child poverty in our state."

For households who are eligible based on 2019 or 2020 tax returns, the payments should come automatically, but those who haven't filed tax returns should either do so, or use the IRS non-filer tool to access their payments.

Census Bureau surveys find, nationally, more Black and Latino families are struggling to pay household expenses than are white families.

Hackett added programs such as the Child Tax Credit that put money directly into people's hands are important because they empower families.

"Every family is different in terms of their specific needs," Hackett explained. "So the more flexible, and the more broad we can make those credits, the better equipped families are going to be to make the choices that they need for their families."

The tax credit expansion is part of President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan, and his American Families Plan would extend it through 2025.

Hackett emphasized it is also important to know parents can either receive monthly payments, or opt out and receive them as a lump sum in April with their tax refund.


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