COVID relief bill includes thousands in new money for parents with children

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WEST ALLIS, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The COVID relief bill includes a major overhaul of the child tax credit.

Simply put, more families will get more money to help raise their children.

This summer, the government plans to start sending monthly payments to parents' bank accounts.

Families with a child under six would receive $300 per month.

Families with a child over six would receive $250 per month until the child turned 18.

Milwaukee parent Isabel Sierra is raising a family of four daughters with her husband. She said it's a challenge.

"Very hard, very hard," said Sierra.

She does maintenance work, but only gets 15 hours a week at her current job. When she filed her taxes this year, she learned she doesn't qualify for the current child tax credit.

"I didn't qualify, I didn't get enough points I would need to get the grant for the children," said Sierra.

That will change with this legislation. The credit will be paid in full to all families, no matter how little they make. It won't phase out until a two-parent family earns $170,000 per year.

"Absolutely amazing, biggest thing done to reduce poverty among children and stabilize incomes that anybody can ever remember," said UW Madison Professor Tim Smeeding.

He used to run the university's Institute for Research on Poverty. He said expanding the credit and changing it to monthly payments this summer will help all families who qualify.

"This would be there every month, month after month, deposited into your account, and it wouldn't count against any other programs," said Smeeding.

He said a parent could buy food or make rent or pay for day care. Estimates project the expanded credit could lift four million kids out of poverty.

"To really help put a floor under the incomes of kids and help them develop and grow up better," said Smeeding.

Sierra likes the idea of getting a monthly check, rather than a big tax refund once a year.

"I think we get too excited when we see a lot of money, you just want to spend it," said Sierra.

She said the change would help provide steady income. $1,150 per month for her family by CBS 58's calculations.

"Get them clothes, get them whatever they need, save money for the future, you never know what's going to happen tomorrow."

Lawmakers will need to find a source of money for the tax credit in the future, it's only paid for with borrowed money right now.

Smeeding said if the government gets it right, and families get financial help for their children, it will be a difficult program to end.

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