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Montana eyeing new state child tax credit

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Posted at 10:17 AM, Dec 20, 2022

BILLINGS - While a child tax credit may not be reinstated on a federal level, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte's office is pushing options to provide families with some much-needed financial support.

Kelly Murch is one of the many Billings families able to reap the rewards of the expanded federal tax credit in 2021. Murch is a mother of four and said it was an added benefit that her family found very useful.

“The benefit mostly for us was probably just the house daily, day-to-day expenses. Just a little bit of a relief just to put some extra into savings that we typically wouldn’t have,” Murch said.

And there are many families just like the Murches, although Kelly knows they are much worse off than hers.

“We have two incomes. Some don’t," Murch said. "There’s a lot of sports and activities that we budget for that somebody might not be, and it’s helpful."

Congress took away the federal benefit in 2022 because some lawmakers believed it caused inflation, but now the Gianforte administration is pushing to set up a state-specific plan in Montana.

Rose Bender, the director of research for the Montana Budget and Policy Center, said that a plan by the Gianforte administration is already in the works and would follow a similar pattern as the federal tax credit a couple years ago.

“The recent federal child tax credit expansion was able to lift so many kids out of poverty because it is fully available to families with low incomes,” Bender said. “Having a state-level child tax credit would be great for all Montana families."

The plan would offer $1,200 per child in tax credit to families with children under the age of six. Currently, the plan would be paid for from the state's budget surplus, but Bender said the plan is to make it an annual benefit.

“Child tax credit is a great use of the funds we do have and would do a lot for families that need that support right now,” Bender said.

Whether it comes from the federal or state government, the Murch family and many others across the state will certainly be paying attention.

“If you’re looking in Montana for somewhere to put the money, it’s definitely much appreciated in the hands of parents working and barely making ends meet,” Murch said.

The 2023 legislative will start on Jan. 2 in Helena.