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West Virginia faith leaders call for permanent expansion of Child Tax Credit

West Virginia faith leaders call for permanent expansion of Child Tax Credit
Published: May. 24, 2022 at 6:46 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Single mom Kristen Olsen said her world transformed last summer.

“I got a letter in the mail that said I was going to start getting $300 a month, and I thought, that can’t be true,” she recalled. “We were hurting so bad. I think I must have got that letter in August of last year and things were just so tight in the news, and so I’m thinking I’ll believe it when it shows up in my bank account... and it did.”

She learned she qualified for the expanded Child Tax Credit, quickly changing the lives of Kristen and her three boys.

“I used it to help pay my electric bill, my water bill, my grocery bill, I used it to help pay for child care expenses,” she said. “[It] really started me thinking ‘wow, like, this isn’t just an amount in like some money in my account’, this is a quality of life difference.”

Kristen said she went back to penny-pinching when the expansion to the tax credit sunsetted at the end of 2021.

“We get the help and then it’s taken away just when we start to, to appreciate it, enjoy it,” she said. “Look at what the economy has done since then to since January. Gas prices have gone up, groceries have gone up, tell me something that hasn’t gone up.”

Tuesday, faith leaders from around the state rallied at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Charleston to call on Catholics in the U.S. Senate, specifically West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin.

Meg Olson, the Grassroots Mobilization Director at Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice said the expanded Child Tax Credit fits in with the teaching of the Catholic Church.

“In our Catholic social teaching, our tradition, we have something called the preferential option for the poor, which means that above all, the most marginalized people are at the center,” she explained. “In the bishops pastoral, from 1986, Economic Justice for All, it’s really all about bringing the marginalized to the center of our economy and putting people over profit.”

Kristen said she is hopeful families like hers can feel some relief again.

“It doesn’t take away everybody’s troubles, and it doesn’t solve all the problems in society,” she said.

“But it’s a good start for a good place to give people a grounding and a footing so that they can build a better life for themselves.”

In a statement to WSAZ, a spokesperson for Senator Manchin said:

“Senator Manchin has always supported the existing child tax credit that is still in place despite the pandemic emergency enhancement sunsetting at the end of 2021. He continues to support policies that reward hard-working families as the effects of costly inflation taxes strain their budgets. He has also made it clear that any change to our social safety nets should move through regular order.”

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