Low-income American families who don’t typically file tax returns can now register to receive the enhanced child tax credit, which will start going out next month.
The Internal Revenue Service unveiled a sign-up tool on its website Monday that will allow users to provide the necessary information about their households and, if they choose, about their bank accounts so the agency can directly deposit the funds.
Filers can also use the tool to register for the $1,400 stimulus check that Congress approved in March, as well as claim the prior two relief payments. A similar online form existed last year to allow low-income Americans to receive the first round of stimulus checks from the March 2020 rescue package.
The beefed-up child tax credit could cut child poverty by more than half, lifting more than 5 million kids out of poverty, according to experts. But that depends greatly on reaching the poorest families who don’t usually submit tax returns. More than 3 million children live in households that could be at risk of missing out, according to separate estimates from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and Propel, which runs an app used by a quarter of food stamp recipients.
Most households don’t have to do anything to get the child tax credit since the IRS already has their 2020 or 2019 returns. Roughly 39 million households, covering 88 percent of children, will start receiving the monthly payments on July 15.
Eligible parents will get $300 a month for each child under age 6 and $250 for each one ages 6 to 17. The payments, which will run through the end of the year, will provide families with half the enhanced credit. They can claim the other half on their 2021 tax returns next year.
A second portal, which will be available in coming weeks, will allow families to opt out of receiving the advanced monthly payments, instead collecting the entire expanded credit at tax time. It will also let people check on the status of their monthly payments and update their information.
And the IRS will provide a tool to help families determine whether they qualify for the monthly payments.
Sending More Money to Families for 2021
The enhanced credit, which is only in place for 2021, stems from the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package.
It gives families up to $3,600 for each child under 6 and $3,000 for each one under age 18. This is up from the existing credit of up to $2,000 per child under age 17. The enhanced portion of the credit will be available for single parents with annual incomes up to $75,000, heads of households earning $112,500 and joint filers making up to $150,000 a year.
The package also makes the tax credit fully refundable so that more low-income parents can take advantage of it. Until now, it has only been partially refundable—leaving more than 20 million children unable to get the full credit because their families’ incomes are too low.
Lawmakers also wanted to make it easier for parents to use the funds to cover their expenses during the year so they are providing half of the enhanced credit in monthly payments.
Democrats in Congress have been pushing the Biden administration to make the beefed up credit permanent, but President Joe Biden’s American Families Plan would only continue the increased payments through 2025. The plan would make the credit fully refundable permanently.
The provision is projected to cost roughly $110 billion a year.