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The child tax credit helped some parents launch businesses last year


Russell Toll, his wife Heidi and their son, after he returned to Iraq in 2009 as a soldier.

Russell Toll

Russell Toll viewed the delivery of child tax credits checks in July last year as an investment in his own family.

The credit helped the Dallas resident to launch Compassion Neuroscience. This nonprofit will help make transcranial magnet stimulation therapy easier for those who need it.

Toll, 40 years old, is an assistant professor of psychology at Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. He was a former soldier who served in Iraq.

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This helped the family stay afloat during Heidi’s 37-year-old divorce. Heidi was laid off at Disneyland as a nurse and she took on substitute positions. Part of the credit was used by the family to send their youngest child into preschool. Toll hired a lawyer and set up the nonprofit.

Toll stated, “If you have to drive a tank,” Toll added.

It will begin seeing its first patients this spring. It also has the goal of one day providing free treatment to Gold Star families — the immediate family of armed forces members killed in action.

The children of Russell and Heidi Toll. Ben (left) is now 7; Abby (center), is now 5. Nick, right is now 9.

Russell Toll

Toll explained, “There is such an urgent need.

Credit: How it helped

For six months in 2021, child tax credit payments with enhanced benefits were sent out to millions of eligible American families. The full benefit was $250 per child for families with children 6 to 17, and $300 for those under 6.

Instead of encouraging parents to give up on their entrepreneurial dreams, the benefit encouraged them to work hard. studyThe Social Policy Institute at Washington University, St. Louis analyzed Census Bureau data. The analysis revealed that while families received their monthly checks, they saw slight increases in self-employment of parents and in work in the non-profit sector.

The self-employment rate increased the most — nearly 3% — in families with incomes of less than $50,000, and was most prominent in Black, Hispanic and Asian families that made less than $50,000. It is likely that this contributed to the record number of businesses created in 2021.

Research showed that child tax credit payments were used by many parents to pay for child care as well as rent and food. Parents also had the option to use the child credit as an additional cushion for their flexibility in employment.

“One of our greatest advantages is the [child tax credit]It gives parents the budgetary flexibility that they need to achieve better outcomes for their children and provide better choices for them,” stated Stephen Roll, research assistant at The Social Policy Institute.  

In addition, the researchers argue that the lack of work requirements — a sticking point in negotiations about expanding the credit — helped parents find better jobs.

Leah Hamilton (associate professor of social work, Appalachian State University Boone in North Carolina) was a coauthor on the study.

The safety net

The study does not prove that parents used money from the child credit directly to start new businesses. The benefit was delivered to families monthly, giving them the safety they need for starting their own businesses.

Roll commented, “It wasn’t knowing that their kids would be taken care even if the failed.”

Johnny Walls (50), received $250 each month from Hunter his son for the cost of their lot rent outside Charleston. This was while Johnny launched his graphic design and freelance websites.

Walls stated that “we still had a roof above our heads so that gave me the freedom to start that company and get started on it.”

Johnny Walls, his son Hunter.

Walls was a single dad during the pandemic and had to work and care for Hunter when school closed.

Walls who had previously worked in IT outside the home said, “I needed to find a solution.” Walls also felt relieved from the monthly stress of having to pay rent, utility bills, and food. This allowed him to spend more of his time on the business.

Walls explained, “Knowing that my family was coming here, and having a place for us to live, it was huge that I could be creative enough about starting my business.”


At the end of 2021, the enhanced child tax credit was canceled. It is not clear if it will continue. The Democrats included a one year extension in their Build Back Better Agenda, but it has been stalled by the Senate.

Some bipartisan ideas could also be made to revive the credit but they are not currently in motion.

This means families are not able to count on the credit being extended and they must manage record-breaking inflation.

It has slowened some business growth for those who have started them. Toll, a Dallas resident, was on the right track to buy his own transcranial stimulation machine. The credit would have enabled Compassion Neuroscience reach more patients. The family budget is now tighter so the savings for the equipment have been put on hold.

Without Walls’ credit, things are even more difficult. Walls still works from home but has observed that inflation and the loss of his tax benefits have made his finances more difficult.

Hunter’s snacks are not the cheapest. To save gas, the whole family has to be more mindful of lighting, temperature, and missing the bus.

Walls said that Hunter could get new clothes if he doesn’t need to use heat or air conditioner during the “expedition period”.

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