Austin nonprofit offers help with child tax credits

Austin nonprofit Foundation Communities announced Thursday it will play a role in getting the new federal child tax credit to local families. 

The nonprofit's focus won’t be on the 80% of people receiving payments electronically, but on those who may be out of the loop.

"They haven't filed their taxes in the last couple of years, there could be an issue with their routing number on their tax return, or who claims the tax return on their children, there's all kinds of complications," said executive director Walter Moreau.

In an office area, staff members with the nonprofit will work through those problems.

"When you file, one of the things we can help you with is, open a bank account, so you can get direct deposit. Or to makes sure the address they have on file for you is accurate. So you can get that paper check," said Kori Hattemer, director of prosper programs.

Meetings will take place at a resource center near Oltorf and I-35, as well as another location close to the ACC Highland campus. 

To qualify, families can only make up to $150,000 for a couple and up to $112,500 for single parents. The monthly payments are in two categories: $300 for each child age five and younger and $250 for children between age five and 17.

Cristina Guajardo, a single mom and recent Texas State graduate is getting a payment. She already has a plan for the money. "Child care, I’m very excited for that. It’s very expensive that’s one of my main concerns," said Guajardo.

She understands the credit will not pay for all of the child care bill. "But it will help and that gives me peace of mind," said Guajardo.

This tax credit is not permanent; the money runs out in six months. During that time period the program will be studied and according to U.S. Rep Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin), the key part that will determine if it can be extended or made permanent, will be finding a way to fund it.

"We are seeing some of our nation's multibillionaires not paying anything, on their taxes this year, so if we follow the principle of asking the multinationals to pay their fair share and people who earn more than $400,000 per year to pay theirs, we could finance the extension on this credit," said Doggett.

Payments come with no strings attached, no guarantees parents will actually spend the money on their kids. That and being in a government welfare program are challenges for the program's success, but Guajardo believes it can work.

"This is not about us as parents, this is not about me, this is about my child. It’s called a child tax credit for a reason. Because it benefits them. So for me, I don’t think there is any stigma, it’s something that’s going to benefit my son, that’s what I’m using it for, and so I hope other parents can do the same, sometimes we have to put ourselves out of the equation, and think what’s best about our children," said Guajardo.

Administrators with Foundation Communities say anyone needing help can get help at one of their centers.

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