Prices Climb, WV Families Face Hardship without Child Tax Credit

Nadia Ramlagan

Some parents said they have struggled to make ends meet after federal monthly Child Tax Credit payments of between $300 and $360 a month per child stopped last December. Without the extra cash, some West Virginians anticipate not being able to afford basic necessities as consumer goods and gas prices continue to rise.

Jessica Greenlief, a Gilmer county resident and previous Child Tax Credit recipient, said the expanded credit helped offset the impact of inflation. Now, she sees her household budget continue to shrink.

“Prices at the gas pump continue to go up, prices in the grocery store continue to go up,” Greenlief observed. “Our wages are not going up. So, the Child Tax Credit was a phenomenal assistance for us to continue supporting our family, where we make too much money to be able to receive any other supports.”

Critics of the expanded credit said it does not tackle the root causes of child poverty, and comes with a hefty estimated $1.6 trillion cost over the next decade.

But a survey released last year by the group Parents Together Action found 86% of West Virginia parents reported the monthly payments made a “huge difference” for their families, and 88% said the credits made them less anxious about their finances.

Greenlief pointed out discontinuing pandemic child care assistance has been an additional financial burden. She worries now about being able to purchase Christmas presents for her children.

“So with that added expense in our household, the lack of the child care, tax credit, we are going to be struggling with the extra expenses [with] the holidays coming,” Greenlief noted.

Greenlief hopes lawmakers consider reviving the expanded Child Tax Credit, and look at updating the Federal Poverty Level guidelines which determine families’ eligibility for assistance.

“Those have not been updated in a really long time,” Greenlief emphasized. “Because of the lack of that updating, a lot of our families are really struggling.”

According to the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, the expanded Child Tax Credit reached families of more than 400,000 children in the Mountain State.