POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Advocates say Gov. Cox’s proposed budget could be expanded to better support Utah families

Jan 4, 2024, 8:00 AM

Child care...

Child care provider Holly Kingston gives children a snack at her home in West Jordan on Jan. 27, 2023. Gov. Spencer Cox's record $28.4 billion proposed budget for the 2024 fiscal year would set aside $9.7 million to help support Utah families. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox’s record $28.4 billion proposed budget for the 2024 fiscal year would set aside $9.7 million to help support Utah families. The proposal could be expanded to benefit more families, advocates say.

While the proposal itself was a step in the right direction, Voices for Utah Children said it would require some leaps and bounds to truly support and elevate young families’ current needs.

The budget allocated $4.7 million to expand Utah’s child tax credit and $5 million for accessible child care.

The child tax credit

During the pandemic, the federal child tax credit was expanded as part of the American Rescue Plan and temporarily made refundable — granting families $300 per month per child under 6 and $250 per child aged 6 to 17. The expansion had a significant impact, reducing child poverty to its lowest recorded level in 2021, dropping by 46% from 9.7% in 2020 to 5.2% in 2021, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The federal expansion of the child tax credit helped lift 32,000 children from poverty in Utah, according to Voices for Utah Children. That impact prompted the Utah Legislature to become the 13th state to introduce its very own child tax credit in 2023.

Who is eligible under the 2023 bill

  • This $1,000 tax credit is for children who are ages 1-3 on the last day of the claimant’s taxable year; families will not be able to claim this credit until next year.
  • There are household income requirements. Families with an income of up to $54,000 for a couple or $43,000 for a family with a single parent (also called head of household) can claim the credit.
  • If a family makes more than a certain amount of money, they can still claim this tax credit, but it is phased out based on household income.

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Advocates say Gov. Cox’s proposed budget could be expanded to better support Utah families