Nearly 350,000 children in Missouri are too poor to get the full child tax credit • Missouri Independent

A new report released this week shows that nearly 350,000 children in Missouri live in families whose incomes are too low to qualify for the full federal child tax credit — with children of color and rural children in particular likely to be between shore and ship fall.

Many of the lowest-income families nationally earn too little to qualify for the $2,000 federal allowance for each child, which is tied to a family’s income and income tax. It is a policy design that, according to proponents, has long excluded the most vulnerable children.

Last year, the federal government for six months extensive the program, including by making the full amount available to children in families with the lowest incomes. Research widely found its expansion children out of poverty and reduced food insecurity.

“The success of the 2021 enlargement has shown us that high child poverty rates are a policy choice, not an inevitability,” said researchers at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan policy institute.

But Congress failed to make the reform permanent, and the changes expired in January.

Without federal action to expand the program, CBPP researchers claim policymakers will “needlessly push more children back into poverty.”

Child poverty is “likely to return to pre-pandemic levels,” they wrote.


About 345,000 Missouri children are now barred from receiving Missouri’s full $2,000 child tax credit, according to the report.

Of those 345,000 Missouri children in the gap, nearly a quarter are black — about 10 percentage points higher than the total population of black children in Missouri. The percentage of Latino and American Indian/Alaska Native children in families earning too little to qualify for the benefit is also higher than population data would predict, both in Missouri and nationally.

This follows broader trends where families of color are “over-represented among families with incomes below the poverty line,” according to one Brookings study on the child discount from April.

Children living in rural areas are also more likely to be left out of the full child tax credit, which is attributed to generally lower wages in rural areas, according to the CBPP report. In Missouri, 34% of children living in rural areas are excluded from full credit, while 24% of children living in metropolitan areas are excluded.

These figures are roughly in line with national averages, with 32% of children being excluded in rural areas and 26% in metropolitan areas.

Other early data suggests that many of the improvements from last year’s child tax credit expansion have already been lost. According to Columbia University’s Center for Poverty and Social Policychild poverty rose nationwide from 12% in December 2021 to 17% in January 2022. In August, according to the most recent data available, the national child poverty rate was 17%.

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found last month that increased payments in 2021 were associated with a 26% decrease in food inadequacy among households with children. But in the six months after the extended program ended, food insufficiency increased by about the same amount. Profits were lost.

The JAMA researchers wrote that without further congressional action, “the reduction in food insufficiency, poverty and inequality … may continue to erode.”

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