Schuyler Center: Increase N.Y. refundable tax credit – Spectrum News

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Three of the top 10 cities in the United States with the highest child poverty rates are right here in New York state: Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo. 

In the Bronx, more than one in three children live below the federal poverty level.  

“New York is not a leader in this area,” Kate Breslin, the president and CEO at Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy told Capital Tonight. “We have a higher child poverty rate than 30 other states.”

Even worse, poverty in the state has recently increased following the expiration of pandemic relief policies.

One explanation: During the pandemic, the federal government expanded the Federal Child Tax Credit for one year. The federal government also made the credit available to low-income families and increased its value.

The result was a significant drop in child poverty.

“We saw an increase in the Federal Child Tax Credit for one year, and we saw — nationally — that child poverty dropped by half,” Breslin explained. “It showed us that tax policy can make a big difference in the lives of low-income children and families.”

The Schuyler Center and 49 other organizations sent a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul and legislative leaders in Albany urging them to boost a similar policy on the state level.

Currently, the maximum state child tax credit is $330 per child per year. The Schuyler Center and other advocacy groups want to see that amount raised.

“So, the Senate has proposed increasing that amount [of the Working Families Tax Credit] to $550 per child per year and getting rid of the phase-in that keeps those lowest income families from accessing the full amount,” Breslin said.

Some other policy changes child advocacy groups are pushing include funding the Housing Access Voucher Program (HAVP), ending the state’s practice of tying child care assistance to caretakers’ exact hours of work and establishing a strong, expanded personal medical leave program that supports the workforce.

“Without some real intention, measures to cut child poverty, it’s not going to happen,” Breslin said. “It doesn’t happen magically. It doesn’t trickle down.”

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