Wheeling, W. Va. (WTRF) – The mask mandates may have ended, but the financial pain caused by the COVID lockdowns hasn’t.

That’s why the government is expanding an existing tax credit to help families with kids 17 and under.

Parents can now receive $3,000 yearly per child older than 6, and $3,600 per child younger than 6.

That’s a big increase over the flat $2,000 rate of previous years.

The government is also letting those eligible receive it in payments throughout 2021, rather than just at tax time.

Financial expert Jason Haswell says it could raise around 45% of families above the poverty line.

If you’ve got four kids, I mean you’re looking at $14,000, that’s a lot of money. And some people are way behind on rent, some people are having issues with a number of different things, behind on bills, this could catch them up significantly.

Jason Haswell, Monteverde Group Managing Director

While it may look like a freebie for struggling parents, Haswell says there is a catch.

You may have to give some of the money back on tax day next year, depending on your income and whether you’re filing single or jointly.

Head to childtaxcredit.gov to see if the paycheck boost is worth it for you.