UPDATE: Make sure you file early to get expanded child tax credit

The expanded credit will give $3,600 per year for each child from birth to 5 years old, and $3,000 for each child ages 6 to 17. (Stock photo)

The Internal Revenue Service has released the Child Tax Credit Non-filer Sign-up Tool, a web-based portal that allows those who are eligible for the tax credit’s expanded benefits to file their taxes. (Those who have already filed their 2020 taxes should not use this tool.)

Julie Kerksick, a senior policy advocate at the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute, said that the earlier you can file, the better. She urged people to file by Thursday, July 1 in order to receive payments on July 15.

For those who do not file in time, however, that amount will be added on to later payments. If you file to receive the child tax credit, you will receive the full amount by December.

To file, you will need your:

  • Social security number for you and your children
  • Bank account information and routing number
  • Full name
  • Current mailing address
  • Email address
  • Date of birth

If you do not have a permanent mailing address, you can use the address of a reliable location to have your checks delivered, including a friend or relative’s house, a shelter or transitional housing program.

If you do not have a bank account, the money will be mailed to you via paper check. If you do, it will be direct deposited in your account.

Benefits from the tax credit do not count as income and will not affect standing in income-based assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Medicaid.

Here are other things to know:

1. What’s happening?

Parents and those responsible for raising children will get some extra financial help this year because of the expanded child tax credit funded by the American Rescue Plan.

The Internal Revenue Service will use information from 2020 tax returns to determine who receives the extra funds. Similar to the stimulus checks issued earlier this year, the money will be automatically deposited. No additional steps need to be taken.

2. How much money can I get?

Typically, the child tax credit gives $2,000 per year for each child on your tax return. The expanded credit will give $3,600 per year for each child from birth to 5 years old, and $3,000 for each child ages 6 to 17.

The amount will be reduced for married taxpayers filing a joint tax return with an income over $150,000, for head-of-household tax filers with an income over $112,500 and for single taxpayers over $75,000.

3. When can I expect to get the money?

The money will be paid in monthly installments beginning July 15. The expanded credit only runs from July to December, meaning you won’t get a full year’s worth of benefits. During a roundtable discussion earlier this month, Kerksick said there is an effort underway to make the changes permanent.

4. Grandparents raising kids should apply

Susan Conwell, executive director of Kids Matter, which helps neglected youth throughout Milwaukee, said that some grandparents may qualify for the tax credit.

“One thing they need to make clear is that they’re raising children,” Conwell emphasized

5. Who benefits from this?

The Internal Revenue Service estimates about 88% of children in the U.S. will benefit from the increase. Jon Peacock, research director at Kids Forward, a Madison-based child advocate group, said in a roundtable discussion with U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and other Wisconsin community leaders that roughly half of the recipients in Wisconsin will be children of color.

Kerksick said:  “This extra money could be the difference between keeping a roof over your head, putting gas in your car, being able to buy food.”

6. What can I do if I have questions about the process?

Kerksick said those with questions can contact her at jkerksick@communityadvocates.net. Those inquiring about the tax credit should put “CTC question” in the subject line of the email.

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