February 18, 2022
Ensuring that no one in America goes hungry is foundational to health, education, well-being, national security, economic priorities, and a more equitable America.
The Child Tax Credit (CTC) expansion included in the American Rescue Plan was a critical investment to address root causes of hunger–most notably poverty–and racial disparities. From July to December 2021, advanced monthly payments of the CTC provided families with a lifeline, which allowed them to put food on the table; pay housing expenses, debts, and childcare; and supplement lost wages due to the pandemic.
The CTC has already proved hugely successful in reducing poverty and food insufficiency, the Census Household Pulse Survey measure of sometimes or often not having enough to eat. For instance
- In December 2021, the expanded CTC reached 61.2 million children, kept 3.7 million children out of poverty, and reduced monthly child poverty close to 30 percent.
- According to recent research published in JAMA, food insufficiency was reduced by 26 percent in CTC-eligible households.
- The expanded CTC is showing promise in addressing the disproportionate rates of poverty among Black and Latinx households with children.
Despite all the proven success of the expanded CTC, the monthly payments lapsed after December 2021, as the American Rescue Plan’s provisions expired. (Families can still claim the 2021 CTC expansion when filing their 2021 taxes.)
While the House of Representatives took an important step in November 2021 by passing an expanded and more inclusive CTC in its Build Back Better Act, the bill has stalled in the Senate.
A family with two children, ages 4 and 7, eligible for the full CTC amount can no longer count on $550 a month to help pay for food, rent, and other basic needs. Without the restoration of these CTC payments, our nation will be hungrier, poorer, and preexisting inequities will continue to grow.
The urgency for action on the CTC is underscored by new research from the Center on Poverty & Social Policy at Columbia University. Due to the loss of the monthly CTC payments, the number of children in poverty increased by 41% (3.7 million additional children), from 8.9 million children in December 2021 to 12.6 million children in January 2022. Poverty increased for children across racial and ethnic groups, with an increase of: 26.9% among Asian children; 30.4% among Black children; 42.5% among Latinx children; and 52.3% among White children.
Action is needed to reinstate and make permanent the expanded CTC, and to make the CTC more inclusive by restoring CTC access to 1 million children who were stripped of eligibility by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
It is critical that Congress takes action, now, without further delay to seize this profound opportunity to decrease poverty, food insecurity, and improve equitable outcomes in health, nutrition, and housing.
Anti-hunger stakeholders can signal their support of an expanded and inclusive CTC: