Why your organization should care about the Child Tax Credit!
Even a die-hard political junkie like me finds the noise in Washington exhausting. I think everyone should stay engaged, but I also understand why so many people choose to check out.
But, if we don’t pay attention, then we miss opportunities to weigh in on issues that are critically important to our communities. This is a moment I encourage you to spring into action, even if you consider yourself one of those "checked-out" types.
The Child Tax Credit is one of those issues that any organization that employs people with children – especially nonprofit corporations – needs to fight for.
We need to fight for it because the Child Tax Credit provides a lifeline to families who are struggling to put food on the table, heat their homes, put gas in their tanks, and pay their rent amidst the rising cost of living.
If you need a refresher on this issue because this tax credit doesn’t directly impact you, here’s the cliff notes:
The Child Tax Credit was established in 1997 with bipartisan support (remember those good old days?). It set a dollar-amount per child (which has increased over the years), that eligible families can use to reduce their income tax.
During the pandemic, the 2021 American Rescue Plan increased the maximum credit from $2,000 to $3,600 for parents with kids under 6 and from $2,000 to $3,000 for kids 6-17 (the first time 17-year-olds were included). The great thing about this increase was that instead of it being a year-end tax credit, eligible families got half of the money up front in the form of monthly checks of up to $250 (for older kids) and $300 (for younger ones).
The other really terrific thing about this expansion of the Child Tax Credit is that it reached MANY more families with kids – 27 million to be exact! “including roughly half of Black children, Latino children, and rural children [who] did not receive the full $2,000 Child Tax Credit previously because their parents earned too little.”
The purpose of this credit was to help families pay their bills.
And we’ve seen it accomplish that goal.
According to Columbia University, the monthly payments reduced childhood poverty in the U.S. by 30%! And, had “no discernable negative impact on parental employment” (in simpler terms, parents didn’t say “whoopty do – I’ll just lie on the couch, watch re-runs of Wheel of Fortune, and eat family-sized bags of Doritos,” they kept working).
But now, just as inflation is biting all of us in the butt, rents are flying through the roof, and a gallon of gas costs as much as a small pizza, Congress has chosen to sit on their hands and not renew the expanded Child Tax Credit! (Its fortunes are barely on life support along with the Build Back Better Bill which proposed extending the expanded credits).
Why this matters to your nonprofit
Unless your organization is bucking the trend by paying every single one of your staff a wage that allows them to comfortably pay their rent, fill-up their tank, put food on their table, and buy other essentials such as medicine and diapers, you should be advocating for the PERMANENT extension of the expanded Child Tax Credit.
And since the cut-off for these full tax credits is $112.5K for single parents and married couples earning $150K, you can bet that I’m talking about folks who work for your organization. And, if for some reason you think this tax credit didn’t make a difference in their lives, I’d take the time to ask them.
To advocate for the credit’s extension, all you have to do, is contact the folks who represent you in Congress. Write emails, make phone calls and rally your staff, board, clients, and members to engage in this important and historic battle for the health and well-being of American families.
It doesn’t take a lot of time.
If you haven’t heard me squawk about this before, LOBBYING IS 100% LEGAL FOR 501 (c) (3) corporations. You can read the short story here.
At a time when many of us feel helpless to stop a war overseas, let’s take action that will uplift the lives of our friends and neighbors.
On a final note: Sometimes it takes a village to write a blog! I couldn’t have done this without the wise counsel provided by a gaggle of folks from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Thank you Sarah Calame, John Wancheck, Stephanie Hingtgen, Kris Cox, and Chuck Marr! If you aren’t familiar with their fabulous work, check them out.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably someone who’s passionate about advocacy or making change for your community. Oxford University Press just released my new book, which breaks down the legislative process into bite size pieces and teaches you how to pass a law. Check out The Empowered Citizens Guide: 10 Steps to Passing a Law that Matters to You and use code: ASFLYQ6 to purchase for the discounted price of $17.47.
Pat Libby is a nonprofit consultant and author of The Lobbying Strategy Handbook: 10 Steps to Advancing Any Cause Effectively and The Empowered Citizens Guide: 10 Steps to Passing a Law that Matters to You from Oxford University Press. She has served as an academic, senior executive, board member, and consultant to innumerable nonprofit organizations and foundations for more than three decades.
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