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Figures of family and money. Child tax credit concept.
Dr. Sandra Carr-Melvin, chief executive officer of the Institute for the Advancement of Minority Health, is actively working with the Mississippi Economic Inclusion Coalition to inform Mississippi families on how to receive retroactive payments from the 2021 Child Tax Credit expansion during this year’s tax filing season. “We will continue to urge our lawmakers to make the broader Child Tax Credit permanent in the future,” Melvin writes. Photo by Depositphotos.com

Child Tax Credit Can Still Help Mississippi Families—Window to Apply Closes Soon

Thousands of families here in Mississippi work hard to get by. Parents hold down multiple jobs, watch every dime and fight to tighten their belts, yet it’s still hard to make ends meet. At a 19.4% poverty rate, Mississippi is one of the top 10 poorest states in the country. However, there is some hope of relief with the Child Tax Credit.

The Child Tax Credit, or CTC, is a tax refund designed to help with the expense of raising a child. It’s been around for decades, but it usually only reaches a limited group of parents—those who make enough money to owe enough taxes to receive a refund. And that means that, in past years, it left out families with the most need, those who make little or no income.

That changed in 2021 when the American Rescue Plan Act temporarily “enhanced” the CTC to provide increased financial relief to parents. All families, including those with meager incomes, could receive the full benefit for the first time.

And it worked nationally. Almost overnight, the national child poverty rate fell by nearly one-third. Child hunger plummeted. Families reported using the benefit on basic necessities, like clothing, rent, utilities and groceries. Others used it for emergency savings, child care, or starting a college fund, which could have a meaningful impact on building a path out of future poverty. For families living with health disparities, this influx of cash could mean the difference in some severe health complications.

Hurry to Apply For the CTC

On Dec. 31, 2021, Congress allowed the expanded program to expire. But there is still a small, essential window of opportunity. Last year’s Child Tax Credit is retroactively available to all families, even those who aren’t required to file taxes because they earn less than $12,500 (in single-income homes) or $25,000 (in dual-income homes). That means parents in Mississippi who have not yet received this benefit can still apply, but they have to act quickly.

The Mississippi Economic Inclusion Coalition is a group of eight organizations united to educate the community on economic issues and advocate for economic equity for all Mississippians. MEIC is working diligently to ensure all Mississippians are aware of this opportunity and know exactly how to claim their CTC this year.

“Children who grow up in poverty are more likely to suffer from long-term health problems, have a harder time in school and struggle with toxic stress,” Dr. Sandra Melvin writes. “The benefits of the CTC help children today, but also set them up for a brighter future.” Photo by Depositphotos.com

In conjunction with our online strategy, including social-media posts, emails and our website, we also work in person in our communities. Our field team has attended little-league games, grand openings, voter-registration drives and many more community events to bring the information directly to the people who need it most. We ensure that all Mississippi parents and guardians know that applying for the CTC is simple and easy. 

This couldn’t be more important. We know from watching the impact the CTC had during the pandemic that one of the most effective ways to fight poverty in our state is to directly put dollars back into family bank accounts. Parents know best whether they need the money for groceries, the electric bill or new school shoes.

We know the impact this has on kids. Children who grow up in poverty are more likely to suffer from long-term health problems, have a harder time in school and struggle with toxic stress. The benefits of the CTC help children today but also set them up for a brighter future.

 We will continue to urge our lawmakers to make the broader CTC permanent in the future. But today, in this short window of time during tax season, we are urging everyone to spread the word and ensure all families in our state, especially those who need it most, receive this essential benefit.

This MFP Voices essay does not necessarily represent the views of the Mississippi Free Press, its staff or board members. To submit an opinion for the MFP Voices section, send up to 1,200 words and sources fact-checking the included information to [email protected] We welcome a wide variety of viewpoints.

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