Stimulus money and tax breaks: All the extra cash parents and the elderly could get

Tax breaks and credits could mean way more cash beyond the $1,400 payment for your family this year.


The $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill is now law, and that means your family could see more money than the last two relief bills have offered in stimulus checks. While the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 includes a third stimulus check for up to $1,400 per person -- here's when your stimulus check could come and how to track it -- the legislation also expands the child tax credit (more on when the CTC money could arrive) and provides funding for affordable early child care, aging and disability services. It also raises the maximum earned income tax credit for adults, including older workers. 


If you're a parent or caregiver and haven't received your check yet, we'll explain how the new plan benefits parents, children and older adults, and how your family could see thousands of dollars in tax benefits this year. 


Here's a quick stimulus check status update: The IRS and US Treasury have reported that 90 million accounts have received their third stimulus check, with more coming through the postal service soon. Some lawmakers are already pushing for a fourth stimulus check. (We've broken out all the ways your family could get more stimulus check money this time around, too, and here's how to calculate your stimulus money.)


I'm a parent. How much extra money could my family receive in this round -- not counting the third stimulus check?


The American Rescue Plan includes several provisions aimed at lowering child poverty rates in the US, which bring some families an extra infusion of cash this year. These include:


Stimulus checks for dependents. Under the plan, dependents of any age (including children, young adults or older adult relatives) are eligible for up to $1,400 each in stimulus payments. This money won't come in the form of their "own" check, however, but instead will be added to the household's total. Calculate your estimated share here.


Expansion of the child tax credit. Parents can usually claim a CTC of up to $2,000 on their taxes for every child under age 17. The American Rescue Plan says families with children aged 17 and under receive a credit of $3,000, while those with children under the age of 6 receive a $3,600 credit. It also makes the credit fully refundable, removing both the dollar cap and earnings limit that currently prevents many low-income families with children from receiving the full credit, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. (Read more details about the child tax credit changes here, and when the IRS could start sending Child Tax Credit payments.)


Expanded tax credits for child care. To make child care more affordable for families, the plan provides a child care tax credit for kids under age 13 -- a total of up to $4,000 for one child, or $8,000 for two or more children. The credit is refundable, and available to families making less than $125,000 per year. Those making between $125,000 and $400,000 receive a partial credit (find out what your adjusted gross income is, here). The plan also calls on Congress to provide funding to keep child care centers open, and improve wages and benefits for child care workers.


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