At this point, we’ve written so many posts about the next big stimulus benefit that millions of families across the US are poised to receive, starting three weeks from tomorrow. It’s thanks to an expansion of the federal child tax credit that President Biden signed into law in March as part of the $1.9 trillion stimulus legislation known by its vague, optimistic-sounding title: The “American Rescue Plan.”
Those child tax credit payments, just to quickly recap, will include a series of six monthly payments starting July 15 and running through the end of this year. They’ll include either $250 or $300 for each eligible child that a family has, and then whatever amount those six checks add up to together, that same amount will also be delivered to the family next year, too, in the form of a credit when that family files its federal taxes. But here’s the thing about this stimulus benefit: It’s actually one of many that was included in the American Rescue Plan and which the Biden administration is trying to tee up soon, so that, essentially, a constant flow of federal benefit dollars is flowing uninterrupted to American families. Let’s take a closer look at what’s coming.
Beyond the expansion of the federal child tax credit, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention another of the obvious and very high-profile benefits made possible by the $1.9 trillion legislation — a third wave of stimulus checks, generally for $1,400 and which the IRS is continuing to distribute in weekly tranches. The most recent of which included more than 2.3 million payments, with a collective value topping $4.2 billion.
Other benefits included:
The Child and Dependent Care Credit. As the personal finance site Nerdwallet explains it, basically for the 2021 tax year only, ”the Child and Dependent Care Credit can get you up to 50% of up to $8,000 of child care and similar costs for a child under 13, a spouse or parent who cannot care for themselves, or another dependent so that you can work (and up to $16,000 of expenses for two or more dependents).” Another way of saying all that is if you have two or more eligible dependents, a working family that meets the income requirements could get up to an $8,000 tax credit — again, just for this year. The full details of the credit and how it works are available to peruse here.
Homeowners Assistance Fund. This is a pot of money meant to help homeowners struggling with things like mortgage payments as well as taxes, association dues, and other related costs associated with homeownership. “The American Rescue Plan provides nearly $10 billion for states, territories, and Tribes to provide relief for our country’s most vulnerable homeowners,” a fact sheet from the Treasury Department explains. “Applicable funding uses include delinquent mortgage payments, allowing Americans across the country to take a step in the right direction toward household stabilization. These necessary actions will minimize foreclosures in the coming months, alleviate emergency shelter capacity, and mitigate potential COVID-19 infections.”
As of the time of this writing, there is not currently a way for homeowners themselves to apply for or request a portion of this funding. Among some additional details to know about this program, the Treasury Department is going to divvy up at least $50 million to every state in the US, money that will need to be all spent by September 30, 2025. The money will be distributed through state housing programs, and the homeowner will also need to have suffered a hardship of some kind, such as losing a job.
Help for renters. The American Rescue Plan also kicked in more funding, on top of what was appropriated in the Trump administration’s stimulus package from December 2020, to help renters struggling as a result of the pandemic. According to the US Treasury Dept., here’s what was included along these lines to help renters during the final weeks of the Trump administration: “The December appropriations bill provided $25 billion of federal relief to be administered by the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program for disbursement to existing state and local government programs. The American Rescue Plan nearly doubles the initial funding to expand the reach and impact of the existing ERA program, taking additional steps to mitigate the financial harm caused by the pandemic and keeping Americans safe as the country addresses the virus.”
The American Rescue Plan, this summary goes on to note, “provides $21.6 billion for states, territories, and local governments to assist households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 crisis.”