Child Tax Credit: Biden Administration Relaunches Portals to Help Families Claim the Deduction Without Filing Taxes
In a push to ensure more low-income families get a chance to receive enhanced Child Tax Credit (CTC) payments for 2021, the Biden administration, the Treasury Department and the non-profit Code for America organization are promoting an online portal to help families claim CTC benefits without having to file a tax return.
The free tool was introduced in the fall of 2021 – and used by more than 115,000 families to claim around $440 million in tax benefits – but was inactivated for this year’s tax season to encourage taxpayers to file full returns, including any benefits owed to them.
Available across mobile devices and on desktop, the portal can be found at ChildTaxCredit.gov or GetCTC.gov. Submitting information should take approximately 10 to 15 minutes, and the site offers an English and Spanish chat connection for questions.
When President Joe Biden enacted the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) in 2021, the Child Tax Credit (CTC) was expanded for one year, making it the largest U.S. child tax credit ever and providing most working families with $3,000 per child under 18 years of age and $3,600 per child six and younger.
However, the CTC benefit was enhanced for one year only, and without further expansion or the adoption of President Biden’s Build Back Better Framework this year, the Child Tax Credit will revert to its original maximum amount of $2,000 per eligible child. The return to pre-pandemic payments will certainly have a significant impact on families, many of whom are already struggling to provide basic needs for their children.
For the 2021 tax year, minimum earnings requirements were waived the Child Tax Credit, making the credit available to a greater number of recipients. The ARP also made the credit fully refundable and provided tax credit options for families to take half the credit in six monthly payments. Those eligible can use the portal to submit information to receive the remaining portion of their CTC.
For those eligible and who haven’t received any CTC payments, there has been an outreach movement by groups like Code for America and government agencies to better communicate eligibility and registration concerns. A significant amount of families didn’t know they were eligible for the credit or were weary to register through government portals or digital platforms.
Between July 15 and December 31, 2021, 39 million households with 65 million children – 88% of children in the United States – automatically received monthly payments of between $250 and $300. According to the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University, it was estimated that after the final 2021 CTC payments were distributed, 3.7 million children were elevated out of poverty and child poverty declined by nearly 30%.