A new website from the IRS aims to help millions of eligible families sign up for the monthly advance child tax credit (CTC) payments they are currently missing.
The site, GetCTC.org, was made in collaboration between the White House, the Treasury Department and Code for America, a nonprofit tech organization.
The CTC was increased from $2,000 to $3,600 in 2021 as part of the American Rescue Plan. In addition, families can receive half of the credit as advance payments, worth up to $250 for each child aged 6 to 17 and up to $300 for children under 6 each month from July to December 2021. Eligible families who missed the first payments but sign up now can get larger monthly payments to catch-up for the previous months.
Most families don't have to do anything to receive their advance payments; since July, they have been automatically deposited monthly into the bank account the IRS has on file for a parent, or mailed to their home address. However, the IRS does not have the banking or address information for some low-income families who do not typically file a tax return.
While the payments are already helping many families cover basic expenses, around 4 million children in the poorest families are at risk of not getting them, according to a recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
But reaching those families is one of the main purposes of the restructured payments. Typically, the credit is only available to those who file taxes in one lump sum in their return; this year, thanks to changes in a coronavirus-relief bill, it is available to everyone who makes below a certain income level, whether or not they file a return or not.
The new site is part of the efforts by the Biden administration and the IRS to ensure those families receive their deposits this year. Crucially, it is mobile-friendly, which should help more families without a computer or reliable internet connection access the benefit. It is also available in English and Spanish.
On the site, those who do not normally file taxes can file a simplified return, including their full name, birth date and Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. The site will automatically determine eligibility and estimate how much the user is eligible for each month.
Other families already receiving the credit who want to make changes either to their address or stop the advance payments can do so using the IRS' Child Tax Credit Update Portal.
Finally, the new CTC site can also help nonfilers who missed any of the economic impact payments from the past year and a half.