LOS ANGELES — For more than 30 years, Gabriela Gomez has helped families access essential benefits through the LA County Department of Public Human Services.
“A lot of times people don’t know what programs are out there for them that can help them,” Gomez said.
Due to the pandemic, the child tax credit has been significantly expanded in 2021 thanks to the US bailout. Parents can now receive $3,600 per child under 6 and $3,000 for children 6 to 17. It used to be $2,000 per child, and many low-income families didn’t qualify.
“If you have a family that has 3 children between the ages of 6 and 17, it’s $9,000. It’s a life-changing lump sum for a lot of people,” Gomez said.
It’s money she thinks can pay for tuition, books, or becoming an entrepreneur.
“You can start a small business with $9,000 or $10,000 and that’s something that can get you beyond government assistance,” Gomez said.
According to the Tax Policy Center, nearly 372,000 children in California are at risk of not getting benefits because their families did not file taxes in 2019 or 2020.
“We want to make sure that even if they don’t have any income to report, they fill out child tax credit forms, IRS forms, so they can claim that tax credit,” Gomez said. .
These people can go to GetCTC.org and use a simplified tax filing tool to claim their benefits, including the third stimulus payment, but it’s only available until November 15. According to the website, it only takes 15 minutes.
“The federal government is basically like, look, we’re coming out of COVID. There are people who have lost their jobs. There is inflation, gas prices. Everything is right through the roof, so they want to make sure families can afford the things they need,” Gomez said.
She says the credit does not count as income, so residents who receive other public food or health services are still eligible.
“I’ve never seen anything like this, where the federal government was giving money that amount back to the American people,” Gomez said.
And she hopes to help as many LA County families as possible take advantage of this opportunity.
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