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The California children who may miss the 2021 federal Child Tax Credit

POLICY BRIEF: The California children who may miss the 2021 federal Child Tax Credit  PDF

PRESS RELEASE: Report Shows Which California Children are Missing Out on Newly Expanded Child Tax Credit

The newly expanded federal Child Tax Credit (CTC) will provide a significant financial boost for families throughout the U.S. While most low-income families have already received advanced payments of the new CTC, because families need to have filed a tax return to receive it, some low-income families will likely miss out on receiving some or all of the credit. This brief sheds light on which Californian children and families are at risk of not receiving the CTC. Using matched social services and state tax data, we analyze the characteristics of over 650,000 children who we estimate are at risk of not receiving the expanded CTC. One main reason that these children may miss out on the CTC is that their families had little reason to file taxes before the pandemic.

Select Media Coverage

Yahoo! Money: Child Tax Credit: Tool opens for poorer families to claim tax benefits without filing a full return (May 11, 2022)
Sacramento Bee: Not getting a child tax credit in California? Maybe you should be (October 5, 2021)
Fresno Bee: Millions of dollars available for Fresno-area families in Child Tax Credit. How to sign up (September 22, 2021)
ABC 10: Study finds Hispanic, Native American children missing out on child tax credit (September 15, 2021)
Univision 14: Interview on the Child Tax Credit (September 23, 2021)

Key Findings

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1. Over half (56%) of children at risk are Hispanic and 30% speak Spanish at home.

2. Almost half of all children at risk of not receiving the CTC are either part of families headed by undocumented adults or are headed by an adult who would usually not file their own tax return because they could be claimed as a dependent.

Children at risk of not receiving the CTC, by family type

Notes: Sample size is 556,003.
Source: California Department of Social Services data (2019–20) and Franchise Tax Board data (TY 2019).

3. Using household information that was available for about half of the at-risk children enrolled in SNAP or TANF, we find that most of the children live in single-headed households with extremely low incomes.

4. Children living in rural, and in northern California counties are at higher risk of not receiving the Child Tax Credit

Suggested Citation

Augustine, E., Mackay, T., Ramesh, A., Unrath, M. (2021). The California children who may miss the 2021 federal Child Tax Credit. California Policy Lab.

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