FILE - Family in park children

(The Center Square) – Tens of thousands of Louisiana households should begin receiving monthly government assistance this week because of the expansion of the federal Child Tax Credit program.

The benefit is tied to the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package signed into law in March.

“Did you know that the federal government is sending monthly cash payments to most working-class families starting this month?” the City of New Orleans tweeted. “Even if you don't file taxes, you're still eligible to receive monthly payments of up to $300 a month ($3,600 annually) – straight from the IRS to you!!”

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell retweeted the message, and U.S. Rep. Troy Carter, a Democrat representing nearly all of the city along with parts of Baton Rouge, announced town halls in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and River Parishes to continue spreading the news.

“You will be eligible if you are a resident of Louisiana; if you filed taxes in the last two years,” Carter said in social media post. “There’s nothing required.

“If you haven’t, you merely have to file your taxes and the payment will find you,” he said.

Carter also claimed the monthly payments will reduce child poverty by 50% and 90% of people in his district will benefit.

The Child Tax Credit is a longstanding program that traditionally has involved an annual income tax credit of $2,000 per child. If the credit exceeded taxes owed, parents would receive a refund.

Eligibility requirements have been expanded broadly and the subsidy amount has increased to $3,000 per child over age 6 and $3,600 for children under age 6. The qualifying age limit also has increased from age 16 to age 17.

Couples who file annual tax returns jointly must make less than $150,000. Single-parent income is capped at $112,500.

Monthly payments ranging from $250-$300 a child will be made directly from the IRS, which allows certain flexibilities through its website.

“The Child Tax Credit Update Portal allows families to verify their eligibility for the payments and if they choose to, unenroll, or opt out from receiving the monthly payments so they can receive a lump sum when they file their tax return next year,” the IRS said.

The expanded assistance program comes as part of successive multi-trillion-dollar government stimulus efforts, which have sparked inflation fears.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced a 4.2% jump in the Consumer Price Index in the month following the American Rescue Plan’s passage, the steepest increase since 2008.

The Congressional Budget Office said earlier this month the federal budget deficit will reach $3 trillion in fiscal year 2021, with federal debt at 103% of GDP.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is a leading critic of the new Child Tax Credit. Rubio called the program “an anti-work welfare check” in a nationally circulated op-ed.

“By next tax season, some households with no working adults will receive more than $10,000 in these payments. No work required. Just free money on top of America’s existing safety net,” Rubio wrote.

Stimulus benefits also are blamed for millions of unfilled job openings – 9.3 million according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s most-recent statistics.

President Joe Biden’s American Families Plan, a spending proposal unveiled in April, would make the new Child Tax Credit program permanent through at least 2025.