Tax filing season is upon us. And if you are a parent raising a young child, and your family is struggling to get by on low wages, you may have an extra incentive to file an Oregon tax return. That’s because eligible families can now claim the brand new Oregon Kids’ Credit, a refundable tax credit worth up to $1,000 per child.
In the waning hours of last year’s contentious legislative session, lawmakers came together to overwhelmingly support the creation of the Oregon Kids’ Credit, a new state child tax credit targeted at Oregon’s poorest families. The added cash for struggling families cannot come at a better time, as necessities like housing, child care, and groceries are not getting any cheaper.
The Oregon Kids’ Credit takes a proven approach to addressing the economic insecurity of families: it gives them cash. There is a growing body of evidence showing the benefits of providing direct, unrestricted cash to struggling families.
Perhaps there is no better evidence than that produced by the temporary improvements to the federal Child Tax Credit, which was in effect for just one year in 2021. In its brief existence, the enhanced Child Tax Credit helped slash child poverty by half, while improving family economic well-being, reducing household stress, and reducing hunger. There is even evidence that the Child Tax Credit helped parents enter the workforce. After all, having cash on hand helps pay for transportation, child care, or other prerequisites for being able to work. But regrettably, Congress failed to renew the enhanced Child Tax Credit.
In the absence of congressional action, the Oregon legislature stepped up and created a state child tax credit. The Oregon Kids’ Credit is a fully refundable tax credit worth $1,000 per child aged 0 to 5. Families making between $0 and $25,000 can claim the full credit, before eligibility begins to phase out. A partial credit is available to families making up to $30,000.
While the Oregon Kids’ Credit is not as expansive as the federal Child Tax Credit, it will still deliver some much-needed additional cash to families with young children who are struggling to get by. Across Oregon, nearly 55,000 Oregon kids are eligible for the new tax credit. If every eligible child in Oregon is claimed, some 5,000 kids could be lifted out of poverty.
So how can you claim the Oregon Kids’ Credit if your family is eligible? To do so, you need to file an Oregon tax return. That, in turn, requires filing a federal tax return, because the Oregon tax return piggybacks on the federal one.
While filing a tax return is no one’s idea of fun, the payoff can go well beyond the benefits of the newly created Oregon Kids’ Credit. Families eligible for the Oregon Kids’ Credit may also qualify for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, the Oregon Earned Income Credit, and the Oregon Working Family Household and Dependent Care Credit. All of those tax credits can add up to a hefty chunk of change that can make a big difference in the lives of families.
And you may be able to find free assistance to help you prepare and file your tax return. One way to find out about free tax assistance is to call 211 Info by dialing 2-1-1. You can also text your zip code to 898211 (TXT211) or email email@example.com.
All of us want to see our children grow up healthy and enjoy an opportunity to thrive. Unfortunately, our current economy — where low wage work is pervasive and child care costs are sky-high — makes it difficult for many parents to provide their children what they need. The Oregon Kids’ Credit honors the dignity of all parents and responds to the needs of our state’s most vulnerable children.
So, if you are a parent with a young child and are struggling to make ends meet, be sure to claim the Oregon Kids’ Credit if you’re eligible. And regardless of whether the Oregon Kids’ Credit is for you, help the children of our state by spreading the word.