November 17, 2014Print
Ollisha Jones is a single working mother living in New Jersey with her four-year old daughter. In addition to her full-time job as a parent, Ollisha works as a contractor and takes communications classes at her local community college.
Although New Jersey is one of the top five wealthiest states in the nation, it requires employers to pay a minimum wage of just $8.25 an hour. Between the high cost of living in an area nestled between Philadelphia and New York City, and the cost of providing for her daughter without receiving child support, Ollisha barely earns enough to make ends meet.
That’s why she collects the federal Child Tax Credit (CTC).
Ollisha carefully manages the credit she receives each year. She uses part of her CTC to pay off her mortgage and electricity bills, which can run high during frigid northeast winters. Another part helps Ollisha cover the cost of her college courses, which she hopes will eventually lead to a higher-paying job and eliminate the need to collect the CTC. Ollisha also uses the credit to meet car payments and maintain her source of transportation to and from her job and college classes. Each of these helps Ollisha keep food on the table and a roof over her daughter’s head.
Unfortunately, Ollisha is one of many people who could lose their Child Tax Credit if Congress does not act to make permanent certain provisions that allow more lower-income people to collect the credit. These provisions are scheduled to expire in 2017 along with similar Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) provisions. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that nearly 50 million Americans, including 31 million children, could lose part or all of their Child Tax Credit or EITC. Nearly 16 million people, including 8 million children, could either become poor or fall deeper into poverty if these provisions are allowed to expire.
Ollisha says the credit has made an enormous difference in her life, helping her to provide for her daughter while also advancing her own education. “The credit helps me balance my work and my family life,” she said. “If they take that away, then what do I have?”