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Sen. Michael Bennet pushes for re-expansion of child tax credit as poverty rates rise

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., speaks during a news conference on Child Tax Credit, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) urged action on re-expanding the child tax credit during a press conference this past Wednesday after the annual U.S. Census Bureau report showed that child poverty rates more than doubled in the last year.

Released this past Tuesday, the 2022 U.S. Census data showed that child poverty rates went from 5.2% in 2021 to 12.4% in 2022 and attributed this increase to the expiration of the expanded tax credit and earned income tax credit.

“I met family after family after family who are struggling in Colorado with an economy that for 50 years had worked really well for the people at the very top and not so well for everybody else,” Bennet said at the press conference. “Finally (they had) the breathing room to be able to buy a little extra food or pay the rent … without breaking the budget.”

The child tax credit provides annual single payments to qualifying homes with children under the age of 17 by the end of the year. Families that pay federal taxes and make under $200,000 a year are eligible to receive $2,000.

The median household income in Southwest Colorado was $66,945 dollars in 2021, according to the Region 9 Economic Development’s website. The U.S. Census Bureau Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates reports that the child poverty rate of La Plata County in 2021 was estimated to be 10.1%.

Surrounding counties report slightly higher rates, with Montezuma County reporting the highest in the local area at an estimated 15.2% rate for child poverty.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 expanded this credit for families to receive $3,600 for children under 6 years old and $3,000 for children under 17 while making the tax credit fully refundable. The expansion expired at the end of 2021 and failed to pass a renewal for the following year.

The expansion made it possible for families with income too low to file federal tax returns to also claim the tax credit. It also allowed historically underrepresented communities, including Latino, Black, Native American and Native Alaskan communities, to benefit from the credits that were received by 35 million families.

According to a news release from Bennet, the expanded tax credit benefited 90% of Colorado Children.

A new report by the Colorado Campaign for Children estimates that in 2022, 44% of Colorado families with children have difficulty providing the basic necessities for their children.

With this number higher than the previous year, Bennet, along with Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Washington Rep. Suzan DelBene and New York Rep. Ritchie Torres, introduced new legislation earlier this year that would re-expand the child tax credit.

“These tax cuts were a lifeline to working people and we must restore the Child Tax Credit and make it permanent,” Bennet said in a news release.

whansen@durangoherald.com



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