Restoring the Child Tax Credit Expansion Will Help Women and Children

“[The Child Tax Credit] really help[ed] a lot to us… All of our savings is really used up already… We’re just living paycheck-to-paycheck.”  

– Southeast Asian woman, Michigan; worked throughout the pandemic as a dietary aide in a home care facility 

The expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provided needed monthly support to millions of families. After the monthly payments ended in December 2021, women and families had a harder time meeting their expenses as poverty rates spiked. In fact, the expiration of the CTC was one of the main factors driving the dramatic increase in poverty in 2022.   

In our new National Tax Journal article, How Refundable Tax Credits Can Advance Gender and Racial Equity, co-written with Elaine Maag of the Urban Institute, we make the case that restoring the expanded CTC is an urgent issue—most especially for women. 

Women are more likely to experience economic impacts from raising children 

  • Most single parents are women—almost 80 percent! 
  • Even in married couples, women are more likely than men to take time off paid work to provide care for family members—costing them an average of $142,693 over their lifetimes! 
  • Women were also hit hardest by the pandemic. When schools and child care providers closed their doors, they were more likely than men to have to take on more child care responsibilities, to lose their jobs, and to leave the job force entirely. 
  • The Dobbs decision, which robbed women of their constitutional right to abortion, is already having devastating economic consequences—especially for women of color and women with low incomes. 

Women are more likely to be paid lessand to not receive the full CTC as a result 

  • Without the CTC expansions, many of the lowest income families are not able to receive the full CTC. This especially harms single mothers and Black and Latina mothers.    
  • There is STILL a gender wage gap: Women are paid 83 cents for every dollar men are paid. And it’s even worse for women of color—Black women and Latinas are only paid 64 and 57 cents respectively.  
  • Women, especially Black women and Latinas, are more likely to be in low-paying and part-time work. And more than one in four women in the low-paid workforce have at least one child at home.  
  • In 2021, the CTC expansions had a huge impact on the incomes of single mothers. Before the expansion, single mothers received 11 percent of their income from the CTC. After the expansion, that number jumped to 20 percent! 

In 2021, the expanded CTC slashed poverty and helped women make ends meet  

  • In 2021, the expanded CTC lifted 1.5 million women out of poverty—including 1 million Black women, Latinas, and Asian women. 
  • The expanded CTC slashed child poverty, especially in families of color and single-parent families (most of which are headed by single mothers). If the expanded CTC was made permanent, child poverty would be reduced by 40 percent and Black child poverty would be cut in half! 
  • Women used their monthly payments for basic expenses, such as child care, groceries, and rent payments. The payments significantly reduced food insufficiency, and Black women and Latinas were especially likely to use their payments for food.  
  • The payments helped mothers with the difficult balance of working and taking care of their children. After the payments, fewer parents said they were unemployed because of their child care responsibilities, and in one survey, a quarter of parents said that the payments helped them work.  

The expanded CTC is a battle-tested way to provide meaningful support to the women and families who need it most. It should be restored—and made permanent.