Housing costs. Child care costs. Utility bills. Food.
These are just a few of the items in our recent statewide child care poll that families say they would use the Empire State Child Credit toward if they were to receive it – all expenses that would help families cover basic needs.
But 63% of parents said they had heard nothing or little about the Empire State Child Credit, highlighting the need for New York State leaders to ensure that families are aware of the credit and how to see if they qualify for it and how to apply.
As it stands currently, the Empire State Child Tax Credit policy excludes young children under 4 and its phase-in structure reduces the credit amount for children in families experiencing deep poverty – meaning families earning below $9,667 are ineligible to receive the full ESCC amount.
The expansion of the 2021 federal Child Tax Credit — which increased the amount for children under six from $2,000 to $3,600 and for children aged 6-17 from $2,000 to $3,000 — reached more than 3.5 million New York children and helped lift their families out of poverty. And as many parents reported they’d use the ESCC for basic needs, many families nationwide confirmed that they used the federal credit toward the same expenses to support healthy growth and development in infants and toddlers such as food, clothing, housing, rent, and utilities.
The federal Child Tax Credit — along with an updated Empire State Child Credit — clearly can help families provide for their infants and toddlers. Added together, the combination could be an even more powerful tool to lift children out of poverty.
Advocates across the Raising NY coalition agree more can be done in supporting our youngest New Yorkers – including continuing the federal Expanded Child Tax Credit, reforming the Empire State Child Credit to include children under 4, increasing the per-child credit amount for all who are eligible and access to the tax credit, and eliminating the income-phase in.
Unfortunately, as Congress did not extend an Expanded Child Tax Credit for 2022, New York is critically overdue to expand and strengthen its child tax credit to make it a transformative tool for tackling the state’s persistent child poverty problem. Having more funds for basic expenses can help reduce the devastating effects of chronic stress on growing families and put more New Yorkers on the path to economic stability.
A new bill proposed — the New York State Working Families Tax Credit —would increase the state child tax credit program to $1,500 per child from $500 regardless of income or citizenship status, expand eligibility to children under 4 and to families regardless, which is in line with many of our recommendations in our recent report on the state child tax credit. With this new system, families with one to three children would receive on average $1,090 more than they currently do.
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*Edited December 13, 2022, to include the New York State Working Families Tax Credit bill proposal.