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.

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.