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Federal financial relief coming for many families with children who have struggled during the pandemic

(Source: Associated Press)
Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 4:38 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Families with children who have struggled during the pandemic may get some financial relief in the near future.

Enhanced benefits through the federal pandemic-electronic benefit transfer system are coming later this month, according to Cara Durr with the Food Bank of Alaska. Durr said the benefits are for families enrolled in free or reduced meal programs through the National School Lunch Program, or who attend a school where all get free meals. Just as importantly, the school must have transitioned into virtual learning because of COVID-19, forcing students to eat at home.

“There were extra expenses with the kids being home,” Durr said, adding that lots of families were surprised at how much their children could eat and how high grocery bills went as a result.

Durr said families who qualify will receive the benefits, which could total as high as $1,800 per student starting at the end of July. Families that are enrolled in SNAP will see them added to their Quest cards or, if not, will receive a new card in the mail.

The Food Bank of Alaska has added a section to their website that shows who can qualify and how much their benefits are likely to be.

Another benefit that could come even sooner for families with children is the child tax credit. That benefit could add up to between $3,000 and $3,600 per child for families who qualify, according to Trevor Storrs with the Alaska Children’s Trust.

Income limits have also been raised to $75,000 for single filers, $112,500 for head of household and $150,000 for married couples filing jointly. Unlike P-EBT benefits that are limited to mostly groceries, child tax credits come in cash.

“One of the things the government decided to do was get the money directly into the people because everybody has different needs. There are different situations that they are all dealing with,” Storrs said. “So they will actually get a direct check. But they also have recognized that they need to space it over (time). It’s not just a lump sum check, (instead), people will get a check on a monthly basis.”

The first payments are expected on July 15. The Alaska Children’s Trust website has more information on who can receive credits.

In general, applicants must have filed a 2019 or 2020 tax return in which they claimed the child credit. People who don’t file returns also have an opportunity to get the credits by filling out a form through the IRS online.

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