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For Brihanna Sims and her seven-year-old daughter, the monthly payments of $ 250 that started showing up in her bank account in July meant stability and piano lessons.

The Osseo area school bus driver said the expanded federal children’s tax credit allowed his daughter to participate in extracurricular activities for the first time. “You don’t want your kid to miss anything,” Sims said. “Having to say no because we just don’t have the money hurts.”

The extra money also helped cover their rent when she couldn’t muster enough money during the lull between the summer – when changes due to COVID meant she only got one third of his usual working hours – and the start of school.

“Now that I have this child tax credit every month and it’s something I can count on, like I’m relying on my paycheck,” she said, “I can budget as a result and then I can still, at the end of the month, have a little breathing space. “

Sims hopes Congress will make the changes to the child tax credit permanent. The pandemic stimulus package adopted earlier this year increased the size of the credit and made it available to people who were not previously eligible. And from July through December, families who typically receive full payment when they file their taxes instead receive up to half the dollars in monthly checks of $ 250 or $ 300 – with the final round of landing. on Friday bank accounts.

President Joe Biden has proposed to maintain the current version of the child tax credit until 2025 as part of his broad $ 3.5 trillion climate and social safety net proposal. But it’s one of many family-focused arrangements facing an uncertain future in Congress, where Democrats are trying to come to an agreement before the end of October on a lean version of what’s called the Build Back. Better Act.

Democrats recently suggested the bill could come close to $ 2 trillion, and it’s unclear what measures will make the cut.

“When we talk in the Build Back Better budget bill about cutting taxes for Americans, that’s in part exactly what we’re discussing today, this child tax credit, which effectively cuts taxes by millions of dollars. ‘Americans and helps raise people who are truly struggling with low incomes … out of poverty,’ said US Senator Tina Smith at a press conference with Sims and other parents this week. So I’m very confident that this will be included in the final bills that we pass in the coming weeks, I will just say the weeks to come. “

Smith said the current version fixes a “deep flaw in the old child tax credit” where people with very little or no income were ineligible for payments because they failed to report tax for the benefit to be credited.

But there have been continuing disputes over whether the dollars discourage parents from working and Senator Joe Manchin, the moderate Democrat from West Virginia who wields considerable influence over the divided Senate, has suggested he should be a credit related work requirement.

As Congress grapples with the future of the tax credit, some of the poorest Americans are not receiving the payments to which they are, at least currently, eligible.

Families who have not been required to file an income tax return – typically a head of household earning less than $ 18,650 or married couples earning less than $ 24,800 in 2020 – must register to claim the monthly payments from the child tax credit.

In Minnesota, more than 59,000 children were dependent on people who did not earn enough money to be required to file taxes, according to researchers from the Minnesota Department of Revenue who looked at data from 2018.

An IRS spokesperson said they did not have an estimate of the number of non-filing families who were not receiving the payments. But the left-wing Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated in an August report that four million or more children from low-income families across the country could miss $ 13 billion or more in payments that were extended thanks to to the American rescue plan.

“The bailout changes to the child tax credit are expected to reduce the number of poor children by more than 40 percent,” the Center said. “To achieve this goal, government agencies, community organizations and advocates will need to conduct aggressive outreach and provide practical assistance to low-income families with children, which the IRS has traditionally struggled to reach.”

The IRS has held in-person and virtual events with community organizations to educate people about advanced child tax credits, spokesman Raphael Tulino said, but said he was unaware of ‘No congressional money specifically earmarked for the IRS to raise awareness on the subject. .

A spokesperson for the Minnesota Revenue Department said they shared some of the IRS’s social media posts encouraging people to sign up for credit, but did nothing else.

Local advocacy groups have urged people to take advantage of the payments. The Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota handed out informational flyers to some food shelves, where workers recently handed them out to parents to try and make sure they’re aware of the benefits.

“The lowest income families who weren’t eligible just because they didn’t have enough money, or no money, it’s a whole new group of people who are obviously the most important,” no doubt, to be getting this type of support. And the hardest to reach, ”said Debra Fitzpatrick, director of policy and research at Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota.

People who have not filed a tax return can register for monthly payments through the IRS’s Non-Filer Registration Tool until Friday. After that, they can register until November 15 on, a Code for America website created in partnership with the federal government. The last monthly payment is December 15, and parents can claim the rest of the money when they file their 2021 tax returns.

Jessie Van Berkel • 651-925-5044

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