Child tax credit payments: What we know about the plan to send checks to parents

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In this file photo, Economic stimulus checks are prepared for printing at the Philadelphia Financial Center May 8, 2008 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Fusco/Getty Images)

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(NEXSTAR) — For much of the last year, Congress has debated the size of stimulus payment checks meant to boost the economy and help the hardest-hit Americans pay down their bills. Now, a provision in the stimulus package being hammered out on Capitol Hill could result in regular checks for parents starting later this year.

Details on exactly how frequently the checks would be distributed are not yet finalized, but here’s what we do know:

  • Child tax credits are not new, parents have previously received the benefits at tax-filing time.
  • For this year only, Democrats have proposed increasing the benefit from $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child. Parents of children under age 6 would be eligible for an even larger $3,600 total credit.
  • The plan would also include $3,000 benefits to the parents of 17-year-olds who meet plan qualifications. Previously children had to be 16 or younger.
  • Regular check distribution would begin no sooner than July and would be an advance on up to half of the total benefit. So a family receiving the benefit for one child under the age of 6 would see $300 monthly payments for six months. Between 7 and 17, the benefit would be $250 monthly, if approved.
  • The added payments this year would begin phasing out for couples making over $150,000, and couples making over $170,000 would see no added benefit, according to the New York Times.
  • As in previous years, single filers making under $200,000 and married filers making less than $400,000 would still be eligible for the $2,000 payments.
  • The frequency of the checks containing the first half of the payment is not yet solidified. The Treasury Department will determine how frequently checks can realistically be distributed.
  • The remaining half of the credit would still be claimed when taxes are filed.
  • The credit would be refundable, meaning you could still get the credit even if you don’t end up owing taxes.
  • Some Democrats have called for making the payments permanent.

In pushing the credit, Democrats have said this change — in conjunction with stimulus payments, childcare credits and other relief for parents in President Joe Biden’s proposal — could reduce the number of children living in poverty by more than half, a claim based on a study by the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University.

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