One week after President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law, the White House is undertaking a new venture: Selling the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package to families across the country.
The nascent administration is launching a major campaign intended to make Americans aware of the benefits available to them through the new stimulus law, particularly the generous one-year expansion of the child tax credit, Treasury Department officials told reporters on Thursday.
Under the plan, most American parents can expect to receive $3,000 for every child ages 6 to 17 and $3,600 for every child under age 6. The expanded amounts are tapered off once income hits $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for married couples. (Families are normally entitled to up to $2,000 annually in refundable tax credits per child).
Families could also opt to receive monthly payments – roughly $250 to $300 per child – instead of an annual lump sum.
Experts say the overhaul of the 24-year-old child tax credit could have significant implications for millions of families, particularly low-income households: More than 4 million children could be lifted out of poverty, according to one analysis conducted by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities at Columbia University.
But officials first need to inform families that they qualify for the new credit: One way they plan to do so is by creating an online portal through the IRS for taxpayers to provide their most up-to-date information needed to obtain the child tax credit -- like informing the agency of the birth of a child in 2021.
“In addition to this online tool, the Treasury Department and IRS will carry out a sweeping public awareness campaign parallel to its Economic Impact Payment campaign to reach all Americans who may be eligible for this financial assistance,” a Treasury fact sheet said about the temporary expansion of the child tax credit.
In addition, the federal government has already distributed stimulus checks worth as much as $1,400 to roughly 90 million Americans, according to IRS data released on Wednesday. The initial payments totaled more than $242 billion and went mostly to eligible taxpayers who provided direct deposit information on their 2019 or 2020 returns.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris also embarked on a six-state "Help is Here" tour this week to highlight the benefits of the stimulus plan. The president kicked the campaign off on Tuesday with a stop in Pennsylvania; he will make appearances in Georgia, Nevada, New Mexico and New Hampshire later this month.
“We want to avoid a situation where people are unaware of what they’re entitled to,” Harris said this week during a stop in Las Vegas. “It’s not selling it; it literally is letting people know their rights. Think of it more as a public education campaign.”