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Philanthropy Thought Leadership

Economic Recovery for Families through the Advanced Child Tax Credit

Economy F. Jackson
Director Asset Building Income, United Way of Greater Atlanta

Detria Russell
Executive Director, Martin Luther King Sr. Community Resource Collaborative

At United Way of Greater Atlanta, we’re focused on the well-being of children, families, and communities across our 13-county region. One of our most important areas of work is economic stability. Helping families and individuals attain financial security is foundational for our community to thrive. We have set a goal of positively impacting 250,000 children by 2027. The Advanced Child Tax Credit (ACTC) represented a unique opportunity to advance child well-being and help us reach our goal to improve family financial stability by 10%.  

Under the American Rescue Plan, eligible families have received more than 200 million payments totaling more than $93 billion. Most eligible families received payments each month July 15 – December 15. For eligible families, each payment was up to $300 per month for each child under age 6 and up to $250 per month for each child ages 6 through 17. The Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department sent out the final payments of the Advanced Child tax Credit to more than 36 million families on December 15, 2021, totaling about $16 billion. The ACTC is a resource that has made significant impact for families across the metro Atlanta area. Parents received an average of $423 added to their income each month July – December 2021. That was more than $520 million for children in Georgia under the age of 18. These payments were expected to reduce the child poverty rate by over 40%, according to the Congressional Research Service. Census.gov indicates, most families spent the funds on childcare, school expenses and paying off debt. Locally, these supports have enhanced the overall financial stability of families in Greater Atlanta and the coordination of these resources have directly impacted our strategy to build wealth by providing supports so that families can increase savings, improve credit scores, access financial education, and attain assets that create economic mobility for themselves and the next generation. That’s why partnering with organizations like the MLK Sr Collaborative is essential to this work. Their ability to integrate VITA free tax services, earned income tax credit resources along with their other financial educational programs and services has been a huge benefit to individuals and families. 

The MLK Sr Collaborative works to disrupt generational poverty by assisting families where they need us most. The VITA free tax service allows us to not only defray costs for tax preparation, it ensures that we can educate our clients on the ACTC.  We see first-hand how funds from the ACTC enables taxpayers to address some of their most critical needs for stable housing, educational support for their children and to access much needed transportation to secure new employment opportunities. It’s also important to note the financial awareness families gain when using VITA. The volunteers educate each filer on how to declare dependents in subsequent tax years, so they are that much more in control of their personal finances. This falls right in line with our goal to help families address barriers to economic success and look toward wealth building.” Detria Russell, Executive Director, Martin Luther King, Sr. Community Resource Collaborative.

Families must file their 2021 tax return to receive the second half of their Child Tax Credit. As a part of our Economic Stability investment priority strategy to build wealth—bundling and coordinating financial capability services in diverse organizations to enhance the financial wellbeing is key—and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program pairs IRS-certified volunteers with individuals and families for free tax preparation services so they can keep all of their tax credit and refund. Many eligible families may not be aware that they can receive these payments as well as get their taxes prepared for free.

Child Tax Credit will give families the needed resources to help them thrive and move forward in their economic recovery. For more information about ACTC or getting your taxes prepared free through VITA,  click here.


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