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Child tax credit - $3000 or $3600: how much will it be per child?

On Saturday the Senate passed a measure to expand child tax credits for 2021 as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.

Child tax credit - $3000 or $3600: how much will it be per child?
SCOTT OLSON AFP

President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan was approved by the Senate on Saturday, with Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer hailing the bill “as one of the most sweeping federal recovery efforts in history”.

The stimulus bill, the third to pass congress since the start of the pandemic, is aimed at giving the US economy a much-needed shot in the arm while helping struggling Americans amid the unprecedented economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The $1.9 trillion package includes a third round of $1,400 stimulus checks, $300-per-week jobless benefits through the summer, enhanced child tax credits, $350 billion for state aid, $34 billion to expand Affordable Care Act subsidies and $14 billion for vaccine distribution.

While President Biden had hoped to gain bi-partisan support, the bill passed by a narrow margin of 50-49. All 50 Democratic senators voted in favor while all 49 of their Republican colleagues in attendance opposed the bill, as was largely expected following the House vote two weeks ago, which followed the same party lines.

The Senate-approved version will now be sent back to the House, where it will likely win approval in the coming days before being sent to Biden’s desk to be signed into law, with Democrats pressing for that to happen before some current benefits expire on 14 March.

Bill includes child tax credit of up to $3,600 per child

With the millions of families struggling amid the pandemic, it will come as welcoming news that Biden’s bill will expand the child tax credit up to $3,600 per child. The enhanced child tax credit will run for one year (tax year 2021) and will give qualifying Americans a significant financial boost along with the $1,400 stimulus check.

The enhancement amounts to $3,600 per child under the age of 6, and $3,000 per child aged between 6 and 17. In addition, the enhanced credit will be fully refundable, meaning recipients will get a cash refund for any portion of the credit not used to cover federal income tax liability.

Many Democratic lawmakers are hoping to make the child tax credit enhancements permanent in separate legislation later this year, claiming that the measure could cut child poverty by 50%.

With the passing of this new stimulus bill, parents who qualify for both stimulus checks and the enhanced child tax credit are in line for direct assistance of between $4,400 to $5,000 per child, as well as their own $1,400 stimulus checks, plus a stimulus payment for any adult dependents.