WASHINGTON, D.C. – “We are on the verge of a huge victory: the American Rescue Plan, we expect to pass next week,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said during his Wednesday, March 3, news conference call. “It includes a dramatic expansion of the two most effective tools we have to help to make hard work pay off and to help lift kids out of poverty: the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC).”
The Democrat senator from Cleveland was joined on the call by Angela Lowery, director of Financial Empowerment for United Way of Summit and Medina. During the conference call, he shared how he is working to help Ohioans by securing some of the language in President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief package by expanding the EITC and CTC.
“Even before this pandemic, hard work wasn’t paying off for millions of workers. Wages have been flat for decades, while the cost of everything is up, particularly the cost of raising kids,” said Brown.
The CTC will refund $3,000 per child with $3,600 per child under 6 years old. Brown explained provisions in the bill also increase the age of qualifying children by one year to 17 years old.
The plan will also significantly expand the EITC for workers without children. The credit will be available for people starting at age 19 and without an upper age limit. Taxpayers, in 2022, may substitute their 2019 income to claim the EITC if their 2021 income was less than 2019 income.
“Currently, workers without children can be pulled under the poverty line by taxes,” he said. “Expanding the EITC would fix that. This ensures Ohioans aren’t penalized for financial challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Lowery, who helps Ohioans with tax preparations, shared examples of how the EITC and CTC have helped families and explained the importance of expanding the two credits.
“In my role, I am able to witness the tangible impact that the Earned Income Credit and Child Tax Credit have on individuals and families,” Lowery said. “Families are relying on their tax refunds this year more than ever. So many people are behind on bills or deferring needed expenses, and their tax refunds offer some relief. These provisions will help people in our community, which is why I appreciate Senator Brown’s work and advocacy in this area.”
When asked about the timing for Ohio parents eligible for the CTC who have already filed their 2020 taxes and are beginning to receive their refund, Brown said the expanded CTC will hopefully go out starting in July, as an advance on next year’s CTC. If possible, and if the filer elects, the credited amount could be broken down into periodic payments between July and the end of the year.
The Senate amended the COVID relief bill sent from the House of Representatives by omitting the provision raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 by 2025 and by tighten income limits for the $1,400 stimulus checks, Brown explained during a Friday, March 5, press conference.
Brown said Democrats will continue to work to increase the minimum wage, which hasn’t been increased since he first went to Washington D.C. 14 years ago.
“We are going to find a way. We are going to keep bring up the minimum wage until it passes. In the public, 60-70% want to see an increase in the minimum wag,” Brown said Friday. “We owe it to this country to do it. We are going to keep going until there is enough public pressure on the Republicans until they say ‘yes.’”
As of Friday afternoon, the COVID-19 relief bill is being debated in the U.S. Senate. It is expected to pass in the Senate this weekend, and then the amended bill will be sent back to the House of Representatives for a vote. If it passes in the House, it will lastly go to President Biden for his signature.
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