A more generous child tax credit provided qualifying parents with up to $3,600 per child last year.
There’s good news for families who missed out on some or all of those payments: It’s not too late to file for the money.
But to use a simplified tool — GetCTC.org — they must file by Nov. 15 to submit their information for the funds.
“The money is there; the money is yours,” said Gabriel Zucker, associate policy director for tax benefits at Code for America, a charitable organization that provides the tool.
“You have through Nov. 15,” he said. “Don’t wait.”
That message applies to parents with little to no income, who consequently do not typically have tax-filing obligations.
This year, however, those non-filers have an added incentive to submit their information to the government: enhanced tax credits that were temporarily enacted through the American Rescue Plan legislation in 2021. Those include the child tax credit and the third stimulus check.
That includes an enhanced child tax credit that brought the total sums to $3,600 per child under age 6 and $3,000 per child under 18, up from $2,000 per child.
Advance monthly payments of up to $300 per child were deployed last year. The remaining sums were available by filing tax returns this year.
Notably, the enhanced credit is fully refundable and made available to parents with little to no incomes for the year. The more generous credit helped prompt the largest reduction in child poverty between 2020 and 2021, according to recent Census data.
Non-filers may qualify for a ‘life-changing amount’
As with all stimulus aid created during the pandemic, reaching those who need the money most has been a challenge.
About 4 million people who were eligible for the child tax credit still had not claimed the money as of the end of last year. There are barriers that may prevent everyone who is eligible from accessing the money, including a lack of guidance from the IRS and inability to find credible tax preparers, former IRS commissioner John Koskinen said during a webcast hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center last week.
Parents can use the tool to claim both the child tax credit and the third stimulus check, which amounted to $1,400 per person.
The tool may help families redeem a “life-changing amount of money,” according to Zucker. For families with children who still haven’t filed, that could easily amount to more than $10,000, he said.
GetCTC.org is available through Nov. 15 to coincide with the IRS’ online filing schedule.
Even after November deadline, you can claim credits
The November deadline is just to use the simple GetCTC.org tool. To be sure, those who are eligible for the child tax credit can still claim the money for up to three years after the initial due date, Zucker noted.
But in order to do so, you’ll have to go through a few more steps. A key to-do: Filing tax returns for the years in question.
“Now is the time to do it,” Zucker said, noting it will only take most families about 15 minutes to use the simplified service.
Even families who received the monthly child tax credit payments may not realize they need to file to get the rest of the money they are eligible for, said Roxy Caines, campaign director at Get It Back, which is working to help individuals and families claim tax credits.
“Even if you got advance payments, you have to file a tax return to get your remaining tax credit,” Caines said.
Resources such as United Way’s MyFreeTaxes.com and the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program may assist people who need help navigating the tax-filing process. To qualify for assistance, income restrictions apply.
Some may hesitate to claim the credits because of fears it could interfere with other public assistance, like food or housing, Caines said. However, the credits were designed not to limit those other forms of aid, she said.
“If there’s any doubt or question in someone’s mind, they should check it out because they could still be eligible and have this money available,” Caines said.