Making sure moms know how to take advantage of tax credits.
Isabel Dickson, MPH
Children, Youth & Families Branch- CDHS
Moms who are dealing with substance use have so much on their plates as they navigate treatments, recovery, parenting and trying to get their lives on track. It can be overwhelming for them to have the time, or the knowledge, to take advantage of all the resources that are available to them. One of those important and valuable resources is expanded federal tax credits like the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit that are available to help Colorado families make ends meet.
As a provider, it’s important you know that moms can get up to $3,600 per child in tax credits. And it’s equally important that you know how to connect them to resources to help them get the money they deserve.
The Title V Maternal and Child Health Program (MCH) works with local public health agencies to improve the health of Coloradans. Their Child Tax Credit Program is the tax outreach part of their commitment to working for economic mobility in their maternal and child health program. Isabel Dickson, MPH, is the economic mobility specialist in the MCH program. “In 2021, many things in this area changed and it affected how we could reach moms to make sure they were getting the credits they deserved,” Isabel explained. “The federal Child Tax Credit expanded and so did the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit under the American Rescue Plan Act. Plus, the IRS opened a portal so that people could start getting monthly payments last year. We are dedicated to working with providers to get all this information out there to moms and make sure they take advantage of money they may be leaving on the table.”
If you’re a health provider, why care about tax credits for moms? Nearly a quarter of eligible Coloradans miss out on valuable tax credits that could support healthier children, families and communities. When families have the financial resources to meet their basic needs, parents and children can thrive.
The benefit of helping moms get these credits is powerful, and proven. Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit payments to families help to reduce child poverty, improve child nutrition, reduce child maltreatment and childhood trauma, reduce risk of preterm delivery, and expand access to affordable housing for single parents.
How much money might moms get, and how are they using it? Some stories from the IRS’s Volunteer Tax Assistance (VITA) sites right now are really powerful. Some filers have ended up receiving tax refunds from $3000-$5000 and there are amazing stories of people getting much more, even when their household income is around $20,000. That isn’t always the norm, but many moms have been surprised at how much they were owed.
Where do you send moms to connect with trusted tax help? You can encourage individuals to visit GetAheadColorado.org to file taxes for free, get free tax help, and find other resources that can help make taxes easier.
Know the three FREE and easy ways families can file their taxes: Know the three FREE and easy ways families can file their taxes: File a tax return for free online, snap photos of their tax documents to file remotely, or get in-person help at a Colorado VITA site. More info about these three ways to file can be found at GetAheadColorado.org.
Know this number: Moms in Colorado can get connected to free tax help by calling 2-1-1. 2-1-1 is a statewide service connecting individuals and families to needed resources including tax-related services. Or, they can visit 211colorado.org. Help is available in multiple languages including Spanish.
Speak their language: Send your Spanish-speaking patients to this website for tax information and connections they’re needing: https://www.haciaadelantecolorado.org
Connect your patients to short, multilingual informational tax videos. Videos were produced in Amharic, Arabic, Burmese, Dari, French, Nepali, Karen, Pashto, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Tigrinya, and Vietnamese. Here’s the link to share: https://vimeo.com/channels/1752831
Do moms have to be employed to receive tax credits? No. People who don’t file taxes because they are unemployed or don’t make enough money to owe tax can still get child tax credits. That’s why it’s important to encourage all your patients file their taxes even if they don’t have a job or earn very little.
Do parents have to have social security numbers? For the child tax credit, only the child needs to have a social security number to receive those benefits. The parent can file using an ITIN number or tax ID number.
What about your patients who don’t trust dealing with the IRS? You can tell them that, as of now, the IRS does not share information with other federal agencies and mixed documentation status is fine to get many of these credits. Moms also often have concerns that it will impact their benefits like SNAP, WIC, childcare subsidies or housing subsidies and it will not. The tax credits are not counted as income so it does not affect these other benefits.
How can your office or practice help spread the word? You can Access our free campaign resources including brochures, social media content, and newsletter messages.
Remember, you don't have to be a tax expert to connect people to these tax benefits. It's really just asking them some basic questions. Do you file taxes? Are you aware of the child tax credit? Did you get monthly payments last year that you're aware of? Ask them what concerns they have about filing and make sure moms know that these tax credits can really add up.
Helping families get tax credits is very transformational, it really starts to stack up and be life changing.
The Census Bureau’s 2021 Household Pulse Survey indicated that, just in July, payments from the child tax credit kept 3 million children from poverty. The number of households that reported not having enough to eat dropped by 3.3 million or nearly a third after that first payment was issued and they surveyed what people spent the money on and found they spent it mostly on food, childcare and school.
Share this article: