U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor met Monday with local community leaders to discuss the expanded child tax credit and other family benefits included in the American Rescue Plan.
President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package into law last Thursday. Under the plan, families will be able to receive $3,000 per child and $3,600 per child under the age of 6 with the expansion of the child tax credit, which is typically only $2,000 per child.
“We are getting busy here in the Tampa area on ensuring that the benefits of the American Rescue Plan flow to families who need it,” Castor said. “The American Rescue Plan is going to get more shots into arms, its going to provide economic relief to families and schools, and really help stabilize folks all across this community that have really suffered this great economic fallout from the COVID pandemic.”
Castor, who has been an avid supporter of Biden’s plan, emphasized the need for families to file a tax return in order to receive the credit, and is working to establish outreach efforts to inform parents across Tampa Bay.
“Part of the message today is to families across this community, it’s going to be very important for you to file your tax return this year to receive the child tax credit, and other benefits,” Castor said. “We’re going to begin a major outreach effort to make sure that families in this community have every opportunity to support their kids.”
The package is estimated to cut the child poverty rate in half, which will help lift 100,000 children out of poverty in Hillsborough County alone, said Norín Dollard, director of Florida KIDS COUNT and research assistant professor at the University of South Florida.
“We have to stop seeing it as a handout and looking at it as an investment,” Dollard said.
There are more than 3.8 million children in Florida who will benefit from this expansion as well.
Many families will qualify for monthly advance payments of the credit in the expansion of the child tax credit, in addition to stimulus payments.
“The American Rescue Plan also provides additional resources for unemployment. Hopefully the Florida Legislature will fix Florida’s decrepit unemployment system so that folks who really need those additional resources can receive them,” Castor said. “But one of the most consequential pieces of the American Rescue Plan for this community and families will be the increase in the Child Tax Credit.”
Kelley Parris, the executive director of the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, said the relief provided from the package will be a lifeline for many families across the county.
“We have had so many people that have come into this system just recently, as a result of COVID, and they’re new to the system so they don’t know how to navigate all these services,” Parris said. “It has been particularly sad to see people that have been stable but living on the margin relatively for a decade or more with children, and then all of a sudden after two months of COVID living out of their cars …This is really a lifeline for those individuals.”
The city of Tampa should receive an estimated $80 million in relief, and Hillsborough County should expect $285 million in funds from the plan targeted at keeping first responders, frontline health care workers and essential workers on the job.