New York lawmakers look to expand tax credit to cover youngest children

by Steve Bittenbender, The Center Square
March 24, 2021 08:30 AM

A group of New York lawmakers say the state has a chance to help thousands of children by expanding the Empire State Child Tax Credit to include the youngest in the state.

State Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, D-Queens, and state Sen. Jeremy Cooney, D-Rochester, want to remove the provision in New York law that keeps families from claiming the credit for kids younger than 4. At a news conference Tuesday, Hevesi called that provision “inexplicable.”

The bill would also make the credit available to families who report no income and also cover the approximately 72,000 kids who do not have a Social Security number. Those without a Social Security number were excluded from a similar program included at the federal level in the recently passed American Rescue Plan.

“These are our dreamers,” said Hevesi, who chairs the Assembly’s Children and Families Committee. “These are the dreamers that didn't get DACA, and these are also the kids of our essential workers.”

The proposal gives qualified families a $1,000 credit for each child younger than 4. Families receive a $500 credit for each kid between ages 4 and 17. Qualified families include unmarried individuals with a gross income of less than $75,000, married joint filers who earn less than $110,000 or $55,000 for those who are married but file separate.

Cooney said the bill would help 20,000 kids in the Rochester area.

“I represent a city with the highest percentage of child poverty in the state. It is time to take action and address the structural inequities that cause child poverty across New York,” he said.

Lawmakers are calling on their colleagues to include the expanded tax credit in the final budget, which the Legislature must pass by April 1.

Support for the measure goes beyond Albany. Joining lawmakers at the news conference was Wes Moore, CEO of Robin Hood, a New York organization dedicate to helping New Yorkers escape poverty.

Moore said that poverty is expensive as it costs the U.S. economy up to $1.1 trillion annually through increased court costs, health expenses and reduced productivity.
“When people say that poverty is a choice, my answer is it is a choice, but it's not the choice of the families and the children who are impacted by the weight and the rot of poverty,” Moore said. “It's society's choice.”