How to file for your child tax credit

This article is intended for the parents of 55,000 children in New Jersey and nearly 14,000 children in Philadelphia who won’t get their Child Tax Credit (CTC) payment automatically. They are the children of immigrant parents, in households who earn so little they are not required to file a federal tax form, and perhaps even uninsured.

Families who did not have to file a 2019 or 2020 federal tax return, and missed out on Economic Impact/Stimulus payments, still have time to receive a monthly Child Tax Credit payment of $250 to $300 during 2021. Families can supply the IRS with needed information by using the Non-filer Sign-up Tool. The IRS will automatically determine eligibility and issue advance payments based on the information you give them.

A recent survey of free tax filing assistance sites reveals two organizations still helping individuals and families to file a tax return and/or assist in applying for the enhanced Child Tax Credit. They are:

New Jersey Citizen Action, 165 Halsey Street, Newark, NJ. Open Monday – Thursday, 9am-1pm. 888-829-3711. The are operating as a drop off and remote service only site – no face-to-face interviews. Visit their free tax preparation page. They encourage the clientele to visit an IRS child tax credit page in order to manage and receive the Child Tax Credit. This government website enables a family to: check if they qualify for advance CTC payments and submit needed information to qualify.

Campaign for Working Families, 1415 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA, 215-454-6483, provides a number of options including: drop off appointments in Philadelphia, Montgomery County and various South Jersey locations, virtual appointments, and access to free tax software services. They are open for tax filing assistance through September. To schedule an appointment, visit their website at https://cwfphilly.org.

Additional information is available on the GetCTC website, a service of Code for America. Community advocates should also visit the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ 2021 CTC Outreach Resources page.

Summer Camp and Unvaccinated Baseball Players

Coronavirus mandated vaccinations have been ordered in New York City and in the state of California. The federal Department of Veterans Affairs will require COVID-19 shots for their frontline health workers. Dozens of medical organizations this week issued a call for mandatory vaccinations in the health sector. Action is being taken in response to a dramatic rise of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the last month.

This story is in response to a news article written July 15 by Jon Harris and Tom Housenick of The Morning Call in Allentown, Pennsylvania, titled, “MLB says too many IronPigs haven’t been vaccinated, so now a youth baseball camp has been canceled.” The Lehigh Valley IronPigs is a minor league AAA team, affiliated with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The news article reported that a summer youth baseball camp, scheduled for July 20-22, was cancelled and parents notified because the Lehigh Valley IronPigs did not reach a required 85% team vaccination rate, as required by Major League Baseball. As a result, children missed a camp because baseball players did not get a couple shots in the arm.

A couple quotes are worth examining. One is by Mike Ventola, the IronPigs media relations manager. “We’re disappointed but that’s out of our control,” Ventola said. “Major League Baseball, they have certain mandates we have to oblige by. It’s out of our hands.”, according to the July 15th Morning Call story.

Phillies ace pitcher Aaron Nola, who remains unvaccinated, was recently asked by NBC Sports Philadelphia report Jim Salisbury what his plans were. Nola replied, “It’s a personal choice. Not right now. I’ll keep it at that.”

One hundred million Americans remain unvaccinated. The question to IronPigs players, to the Philadelphia Phillies, to the other major and minor league players, if not now, when? “A personal choice”, “out of our control”. Really?

By last report, as of June 25, seven major league teams – including the Phillies – had not yet reached the MLB mandated 85% vaccine threshold. An email request made to Major League Baseball on the current status of these teams went unanswered. Mike Ventola, in a phone call yesterday, reported the summer camps scheduled for August 3-5 and August 24-26 have also been cancelled and parents notified by mail. Sorry kids.

Child Tax Credit (CTC)

The one-year expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) in the American Rescue Plan is perhaps the most far-reaching piece of family centered legislation to pass Congress in decades as it cuts child poverty by more than 40%. It creates monthly payments for nearly all working families. The purpose of this article is to help explain various aspects of the tax credit and provide links to families who have yet to receive payments.

Most families will receive monthly payments of either $250 per child ages 6 – 17 or $300 per child under age 6, starting July 15, 2021. Families will get the remaining money when they file their federal income tax return in 2022. It is estimated that about 90% of families with children will get this new tax relief automatically. IRS has planned distribution dates for the CTC checks for July 15, August 13, September 15, October 15, November 15, and December 15.

People who did not file either a 2019 or 2020 federal income tax form, or claim an Economic Impact Payment or Recovery Rebate Credit (stimulus checks) can use the IRS Child Tax Credit Non-filer Sign-up Tool to receive advance CTC payments. The tool or portal is available to help non tax-filers, low-income families, and other underserved groups. It was set up for people who typically don’t file tax returns.

A question often raised is whether the CTC will affect other government benefits (like SSI, SNAP, TANF, or WIC)? The answer, per the White House CTC page, reads: “No. Receiving Child Tax Credit payments is not considered income for any family.Therefore, it will not change the amount you receive in other Federal benefits. These Federal benefits include unemployment insurance, Medicaid, SNAP, SSI, SSDI, TANF, WIC, Section 8, or Public Housing.”

The new maximum child tax credit is available to taxpayers with a modified adjusted gross income (AGI) of:

  • $75,000 or less for singles,
  • $112,500 or less for heads of household, and
  • $150,000 or less for married couples filing a joint return and qualified widows and widowers.

There is also a CTC Update Portal which can be used to: check if you’re enrolled to receive advance payments, provide or update bank account information, and to unenroll and stop getting monthly advance payments.

For more information visit: ChildTaxCredit.gov.

Download the Child Tax Credit Explainer (PDF).

IRS’ Advance Child Tax Credit Payments in 2021 page.

IRS’ CTC Non-filer Sign-up Tool.

IRS’ CTC Update Portal.

Get Your Child Tax Credit – a nonprofit’s page.

2021 CTC Outreach Resources – by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.