Gov. Jared Polis declared that Thursday was Child Tax Credit Day in Colorado, joining a chorus of Democrats touting the expanded program on the day money started arriving in parents' bank accounts.
Supporters say the monthly payments — $300 per child under age 6, $250 per child age 6-17 for most families — will do more to erase child poverty in the United States than any program enacted since the 1960s, though questions remain about whether millions of eligible parents will receive the funds.
The vast federal program has been a top policy priority of U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet since the middle of the last decade and was signed into law by President Joe Biden in March as part of a pandemic response package.
“I’ve been fighting for years to make sure that more Colorado families can receive the Child Tax Credit, and I am thrilled that President Biden’s American Rescue Plan has made the benefit available to 39 million families across this country this year," Bennet said in a video statement released Thursday.
“This is the most significant investment Washington has made in kids and families in generations. And it’s why I’m doing everything I can to make this change permanent so that you and your family can receive the Child Tax Credit this year and every year to come.”
Colorado has also established a new refundable child tax credit of up to $1,080 for children up to age 6, on top of the federal credit.
Polis said in a statement that the credits "will play a critical role in powering Colorado’s comeback and ensuring that hardworking families and individuals have more money in their pockets to support their children, help grow our economy and thrive."
The expanded federal program increases the existing $2,000-per-child tax credit to $3,000 for children 6-17 and $3,600 for children under 6, with half paid out monthly from July to December and the remainder available at tax time. New this year, the credit is fully refundable, meaning families that haven't had to file taxes can get the whole amount. The payments start to phase out for individual filers making $75,000 and couples making $150,000.
The federal tax credit is in place for the 2021 tax year. Democrats have proposed a five-year extension as part of the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package making its way through Congress, but Bennet and his allies are pushing to make the credit permanent.
"This should just be the beginning of creating an economy that, when it grows, grows for everybody, not just the people at the very top," Bennet said Wednesday in a speech on the Senate floor.
Some estimates predict the expanded credit will cut in half overnight the number of American children living in poverty.