Press release from NC Justice Center:
Families with qualifying children have one week left to take action in order to receive these one-time grant funds to help with virtual schooling and child-care costs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Extra Credit Grant Program, created by North Carolina lawmakers last month, provides a one-time distribution of $335 to families with at least one qualifying child, and most North Carolina parents who file a 2019 state income tax return will get the payment automatically.
Families must either file their 2019 state income taxes or apply for the program by Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020.
Families who are not required to file a North Carolina individual income tax return because their income did not exceed the state’s filing requirements (generally $10,000 per year if you are single and $20,000 per year if you are married) may still be eligible. Filers or applicants must have a qualifying child based on the federal child tax credit for 2019.
“Families should access all the help they need now during these difficult economic times,” said Kate Woomer-Deters, Senior Attorney at the Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project at the North Carolina Justice Center. “This program can be a great help to families with children, and it will not affect anyone’s future immigration application.”
One of the challenges with this program is that the families who are most in need — those not required to file their state income taxes because their income is low — are mostly likely to not receive these funds. This crucial cash assistance can help families make ends meet by covering expenses, including housing and food costs.
“The $335 can make a huge difference for families experiencing a housing crisis”, said Denise Neunaber Executive Director of the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness. “According to The Serve Center, part of the NC Department of Public Instruction, 28,240 school children experienced homelessness in the 2019-2020 school year. For families that won’t get this payment automatically, it can make the difference between maintaining their current living situation or having no place to call home. It can provide much-needed relief at a time of continued economic insecurity and when many of our children are having to school at home.”
Still, many families are likely to not receive these dollars due to the short timeline specified by lawmakers, in addition to other opportunities to make these funds more targeted.
“These ‘extra credit’ payments to help families in North Carolina should have been allocated differently. Rather than sending one-time $335 checks to all households with children, the NC General Assembly should have provided additional direct financial relief to poor and low-income families who have the greatest needs,” said Whitney Tucker, Policy Director with NC Child. “Not only that, but the fact that many low-income families have to proactively apply for this $335 one-time payment by October 15 ensures that thousands of families will not ever receive this small amount of relief.”
Families with at least one qualifying child should be sure to take action by Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, by either filing their state income tax return or completing the program application on the North Carolina Department of Revenue website.