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Help Available for Families to Claim Child Tax Credit

Patti Singer
pattisinger@minorityreporter.net

Yversha Roman, director of Empire Justice Center’s CASH program, announcing a public campaign to

Jason Delooze woke up the other day to find an extra $300 in his bank account.

It wasn’t a bank error, and he didn’t hit the lottery.

Delooze is among thousands of Monroe County parents who received the first of the monthly advance IRS Child Tax Credit payments.

“This is going to be meaningful,” said Delooze, who lives in Fairport and works in Rochester for AmeriCorps. “It means more birthday gifts, more school supplies, it means an easier way to pay my rent.”

The advance payments started showing up July 15 in the accounts of taxpayers and run through December.

Low-income families who weren’t required to file taxes in 2019 or 2020 still are eligible for the credit. In Monroe County, that totals about 4,000 families. But it may be hard to find them.

Yversha Roman, director of the Empire Justice Center’s CASH program, said a communitywide effort is needed to inform families and help them claim the money. The CASH (Creating Assets, Savings & Hope) program, along with the city and Monroe County, the Children’s Agenda and ESL Foundation, launched that effort at a news conference July 16.

Roman said there is no one list with the names of families who weren’t required to file taxes but are eligible for the payments. She said Empire Justice is working with the county and the Children’s Agenda to review multiple lists and send letters to families who may qualify.

Roman said the effort would include billboards, signs at bus shelters and flyers in several languages distributed throughout the area to alert families. CASH will help people navigate the paperwork necessary to claim the credit, and it also can help people who need to file a tax return. Call (585) 900-1004 for an appointment. Information is available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Nepali, Dari, French and English/ASL.

Payments are up to $300 per child younger than 6 and $250 per child age 6 through 17. The payments don’t affect other benefits, such as SNAP or Section 8.

The advance payments apply only to the 2021 tax year, although Rep. Joe Morelle said at the news conference that he would like to see them be permanent.

The advance payments are a way to help families recover from the economic fallout of COVID-19, and in Rochester and Monroe County they are seen as a way to help families out of poverty.

Morelle said the payments are expected to lift 8,2000 children in his district out of poverty. He said on average, families living at the poverty level will receive $4,900.

The money – up to $300 per child – has no strings and can be used as the family sees fit. Roman said there are no measures yet in place to determine the effects of the payments on a family’s financial situation.

Aqua Porter, executive director of the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative, said children are the poorest age group in the nation.

“We know that the toxic stress of early poverty stunts children’s development, creating opportunity gaps that can last a lifetime,” she said. “It is really important also to know that children who experience poverty are also more likely to be poor at age 30 than children who never experienced poverty. This is why this money coming to families is extremely important. It is transformative.”

Delooze held his son as he spoke at the news conference.

“I was one of those people that grew up in poverty and at 30, I found myself in poverty as well,” he said, holding his son in the crook of his arm. “It’s a hard struggle to get out of. It’s a real challenge. … I know what it means just to have a little more money and how important that can mean and the relief that it brings us from that struggle and the worry of the future.”