Undocumented immigrants are among the families who said they did not receive the federal child tax credit, even after the law was changed and extended to make them eligible, according to Chabeli Carrazana, business journalist at the 19th.
In an article This month, Carrazana mentions that some undocumented immigrant families are not receiving the funds, which adds to the obstacles they already face when filing their taxes. Problems with their individual taxpayer identification numbers, direct deposits and “even small errors in claims” can cause delays in their monthly payments.
Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal talks to Carrazana about how policies created to help those most in need of help fall short.
Kai Ryssdal: Do me a favor. For those who do not know, or because it is sometimes confusing, what exactly is the child tax credit?
Chabeli Carrazana: Sure. The child tax credit is therefore a direct payment that families with children receive each year with their taxes. The big difference over the past year has been that three basic elements of the child tax credit have changed. Previously, families received about $ 2,000. You can now receive up to $ 3,600 per child. The other big difference is that you got this money every year, now you get it monthly since July 15th. Families have started receiving it every month for the remainder of this year. And then the third big chunk is that this money is fully available for the lower income families in the country. Now, previously, these families were limited to receiving only part of the child tax credit. Now they get it all. So if you don’t pay anything in taxes, you can get this credit. If you are undocumented but your child is a US citizen, you are eligible for this credit. So that’s sort of the big promise of last year’s child tax credit.
Ryssdal: Okay, insist on the word “promise” because, as your article points out, that’s not really what’s going on with this, this third installment of the plan.
Carrazana: Well, the promise and the access are two different things, aren’t they? And we see that this year where we have certain groups that are continually being left out and left out as each month goes on. Sometimes we know why, and sometimes we don’t.
Ryssdal: So give me an example. There is a lot in your story, choose your favorite anecdote.
Carrazana: Sure. So undocumented families, we talked to a number of them who said to us, you know, “We’re still not getting this money. And we don’t know why. And you go with them step by step on all the qualifications you need to receive that money. And it seems they qualify, and the IRS can’t necessarily tell us why this is happening. It can be individualized for each person. But we already know from the start of this deployment in July that families who had an undocumented person did not receive the credit at all when it initially started going out. They began to correct this in the following months. But we know that there have been continuing problems month after month. You’re going to be receiving monthly payments until December, and so if your status isn’t validated by then, you won’t be able to share that promise of, you know, “We’re going to send this money to you monthly because there is. has a need right now during the pandemic. And these are the most vulnerable people.
Ryssdal: Well, let’s contextualize that a bit, don’t we? Latinos, who are, you know, the preponderance of people you talk about in your article, they are part of the most unemployed group of people over the last 18 months in this economy, right? So in theory, that’s where the need is. And yet, the aid is not getting there.
Carrazana: Oh, the Latinas in particular. I mean, Latinas as a group have had the highest unemployment rate of all over the past year and a half, topping 20% last summer. You know, a mom said to me, “I would use that for the $ 85 of school supplies I have to buy for my two kids, to rent, to keep the lights on, to keep the Wi-Fi on.” These are the people we know need the most and also those who have to overcome the most obstacles to get it.
Ryssdal: So where is this going? I mean, the IRS says, “I don’t know” and the people you spoke with say, “Look, we need this money for school supplies, diapers, food and everything else. ” Where are we going?
Carrazana: Well I think the big structural problem here is that the IRS is under a lot of stress this year. They need more funding to be able to do something this huge. The need for these families is not just for the year this child tax credit was expanded, but it will be a need that will continue. And so right now in Congress, that is what is being debated. Are we going to make the child tax credit permanent because the need does not go away very clearly?
Ryssdal: Chabeli Carrazana, she writes for the 19th on a lot of things, most notably now the child tax credit. Thank you so much. I appreciate your time.
Carrazana: Thank you so much.