In March 2021, the American Rescue Plan passed and ushered in a historic one-year expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) that lets parents pay for the things they know their family needs on a monthly basis. This monthly CTC has expired—but we are fighting hard to ensure that we make the most of this momentum and pass a permanent and inclusive child allowance, which would ensure that families can make ends meet and take care of their children.
In the meantime, we have outlined what you need to know about the CTC in 2022 and how to ensure that your family gets the money that is owed to them.
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Child Tax Credit: Frequently Asked Questions
The Child Tax Credit (CTC) helps families with the high cost of raising children. It has historically been claimed at the time that a parent or caregiver files their taxes, and it has also been seriously flawed: millions of families did not previously qualify for the CTC because they earned too little. The American Rescue Plan, signed into law on March 11, 2021, expands and improves upon the CTC for one year, making it available to the 23 million children—disproportionately Black and Latinx children—who were previously left out.
The American Rescue Plan also changed the way that the benefit will be available to families: instead of having to wait until they file their taxes in 2022, families were able to get a monthly cash benefit that started on July 15, 2021 and ended on December 15, 2021.
If you received monthly CTC payments last year, you will receive the second half of the cash benefit when you file your taxes this year.
You could get up to $1,800 per child under 6 and $1,500 per child 6 – 17 years old.
Yes! Even if you missed out on the CTC monthly payments last year, or chose to opt-out of monthly payments, you can still get the full cash benefit when you file your 2021 taxes this year!
You could get up to $3,600 per child under 6 years old or $3,000 per child between 6 – 17 years old if you are getting the full CTC on your tax return.
We encourage all families to file their taxes as soon as possible. The earlier you file, especially electronically, the faster you can get your CTC total amount.
For families filing for the first time, or those who need help completing their forms, free resources for support are available:
- Visit GetYourRefund.org to learn about your eligibility and how to get the credit when filing your 2021 tax return or be connected to an IRS-certified volunteer for support.
- Call 211 to be connected with local IRS-certified free tax filing assistance or virtual help.
- Go in person to an IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site. VITA is generally available to people who make $57,000 or less, those who have disabilities, and those who speak limited English.
- For support with tax issues, find your local Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic for free legal help on tax issues with the IRS, or make an appointment with your local Taxpayer Assistance Center.
- Use the IRS Free File, which is available to people whose income was $72,000 or less in 2021 and who do not need as much hands on support filing taxes.
- Check out the comprehensive new government ChildTaxCredit.gov website for more information!
Unfortunately, if you used the IRS non-filer portal or the GetCTC portal—also known as simplified filing—last year to easily claim the monthly CTC, that option will not be available until May 2022. The IRS regulations do not allow for simplified filing before April 18, 2022. Families can choose to either file a full tax return or wait until the late spring to use the simple filing option.
Some options to consider: While you do not need a physical copy of your SSN or ITIN like some of the hands on tax assistance programs, if you or a member of your family waits to use the simple filing option in May you will only be able to claim the CTC or the 3rd stimulus check (which is worth up to $1,400 for each eligible adult and dependent), and no other federal or state tax credits. It is also only available to families making up to $25,000. While simplified filing is faster and easier to use, if you are worried about a dependent that could be claimed by someone else or are eligible for other tax benefits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) this might not be the best option for you. While a full tax return can be incredibly complicated and time consuming, we are hopeful that all families will receive the federal money that is owed to them.
To learn more about when simplified or “express” filing is available, click here.
There are many free resources available to help you file a tax return. This tool will help you identify what filing option is right for you. If you would like personalized tax-filing assistance either in-person or virtually, you should locate a nearby Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site. This tool will help you find a VITA site near you. VITA is generally available to people who make $57,000 or less, those who have disabilities, and those who speak limited English.
First, you should access your IRS online account to determine whether the IRS issued any advance CTC payments to you. If the IRS has a record of making those payments, but you didn’t receive them you should verify your banking information to determine where the payments were sent. If the IRS doesn’t have a record of making any monthly payments to you even though you signed up, you are still eligible to receive the full value of the CTC when you file your taxes.
If you signed up for the monthly payments using GetCTC or the IRS non-filer portal—aka simplified filing—and haven’t received anything, but you received a notification that your return was accepted, you should also check the mail for any letters from the IRS for an update.
If you’ve received a 6419 letter, keep it on hand for when you file your taxes. The letter includes information about the total amount of advance monthly CTC payments you received in 2021, so you will need to input this amount as part of the tax filing process. If you didn’t receive the letter or you can’t find your letter, don’t worry, you can access the necessary information through your IRS online account.
First, you should go to your IRS Online Account and see what the IRS has recorded as your advanced monthly payments. If you moved or changed bank accounts, your last monthly payment may have been returned to the IRS. If the amount listed on your IRS account is still different than what you received, it might be difficult to resolve that discrepancy. If you report receiving a different amount than the amount listed by the IRS, your refund may be delayed while the IRS processes the discrepancy.
If you filed a joint tax return, you will both receive a letter from the IRS showing half of the monthly CTC payments. If you plan to file jointly this year, you will add up the amounts from each letter and list the total amounts on your tax return. If you plan to file separately this year, each spouse will list the CTC amount on their tax return. See more information here.
When you file your taxes, you’ll need to “reconcile” your advance CTC payments. This just means that you’ll have to tell the IRS how much you received in advance monthly CTC payments in 2021. The IRS will use that information to determine how large the remaining portion of your CTC will be. The information you need is available in IRS letter 6419 (mentioned above) or online through your IRS online account.
If you don’t enter the correct amount of your advance CTC payments when you file your taxes, your refund could be delayed or you could receive an incorrect amount of money from the IRS.
In most cases, if you received more than half of the CTC for which you are eligible in the form of advance payments in 2021, you will simply receive a smaller lump sum payment when you file your taxes this year. If the amount you received in advance monthly payments is larger than the total amount of CTC for which you are eligible, you may be required to pay some money back to the IRS. Under the CTC’s safe harbor provisions, families with low to moderate income are protected from some or all repayment requirements, even if they received too much from the IRS.
Advance payments of the CTC were not reduced even if you owed back taxes or other debts held by federal or state governments. When you file your taxes, however, the remaining portion of your CTC may be subject to offset for tax debts or other federal or state debts you owe.
If you have student loans in default, the Department of Education recently announced that the CTC will not be garnished (taken away) from families.
No. Receipt of the CTC will not affect the immigration status of any member of the family who gets the credit. To be eligible, a child must have an SSN, but a parent or caregiver is only required to have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) in order to claim the credit for your eligible child. Click here for more information.
Most families with children qualify. Families in the U.S. and territories qualify for newly expanded CTC. Married couples filing jointly making up to $150,000, single Head of Households making up to $112,500, and everyone else making up to $75,000. If you have questions about your eligibility, visit: https://www.irs.gov/credits-deductions/2021-child-tax-credit-and-advance-child-tax-credit-payments-frequently-asked-questions for more information.
No, parents and caregivers do not need any income to qualify for the expanded CTC.
A child must have a SSN to be eligible for the CTC. A parent or caregiver is not required to have a SSN to claim the credit, however you must have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) in order to claim the credit for your eligible child. Mixed immigration-status families may find this fact sheet helpful for more information on the CTC, including how to get an ITIN if you don’t already have one.
The simple answer is that it depends on your income, how many children you have, and their ages.
The amount varies by income. Married couples making up to $150,000, families with a single Head of Household with income under $112,500, and everyone else under $75,000 qualify for the full Child Tax Credit. If you received advanced monthly payments, there is still thousands of dollars of federal money on the table. If you have not received any monthly payments yet, you can still receive the full amount of $3,600 per child under six years old and $3,000 per child age six to 17.
If your child lived with you for at least half of 2021, you can still claim the remaining portion of the CTC and you will not be required to pay back your advance payments, even if the child in question no longer lives with you. If your child did not live with you for at least 6 months in 2021 and claimed the monthly CTC last year, you are not eligible to claim the CTC and you might have to repay your advance CTC payments. Under the CTC’s safe harbor provisions, families with low to moderate income are protected from some or all repayment requirements. Families earning less than the following amounts in 2021 will not have to repay anything: $40,000 for single filers; $50,000 for head of household; and $60,000 for married filing jointly.
The Child Tax Credit is not considered income for any family. It will not affect your Medicaid, SNAP/Food Stamps, TANF Cash Assistance, SSI, SSDI, Unemployment Insurance, Section 8, or Public Housing.
Not currently. This is a temporary expansion of the CTC that applies only for tax year 2021. Advance monthly payments expire at the end of 2021, but you can still get the full value of the CTC at tax time this year.
The Children’s Defense Fund is fighting hard to ensure that Congress takes additional action and pass legislation that includes a permanent expansion and other critical improvements to the CTC.
The one-year expansion of the CTC and the advance monthly payments that ran from July through December 2021 have substantially reduced the national child poverty rate. In December 2021, the CTC kept 3.7 million children out of poverty, a roughly 30 percent reduction in the child poverty rate.
For more information on general Child Tax Credit information, use the White House’s website: https://www.whitehouse.gov/child-tax-credit/
Looking for more information?
Check out our “Understanding the Expanded Child Tax Credit” blog post for the answers to additional questions you may have and, if you did not file your taxes in 2019 or 2020, review our resource on using the Non-Filer Sign Up Tool to get your benefit.
What parents and caregivers are saying
We’ve been asking parents and caregivers who will be eligible for the expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) to tell us what it will mean for them and their families. Here’s what a few of them have said:
“[I am] a person who works 40 hours a week in the medical field, who still cannot make ends meet. I do not get paid enough to comfortably feed my son. This will help me make those important grocery trips. It will mean I will not lose sleep at night wondering what bill I will have to skip this month to make sure my child is fed.”
“It would help to get the bills paid so I wouldn’t have to rent the room in my house out and my grandbaby/ foster child could have her own bedroom.”
“It would mean not having to pick up extra shifts, and more time with family.”
“This would benefit my family in so many ways, from having me and my kids eat more to providing him with transportation back and forth for school.”
“[It would mean] emotional relief knowing that I don’t have to worry about feeding and providing basic essentials for [my children].”
“It’s going to give my son a chance to participate in extracurricular activities that he otherwise would not be able to do so at this time.”
“I can use it to offset childcare cost so I can continue working as a single mom.”
“What I think of when the CTC monthly benefits start to roll out, I feel a sense of relief… I see this benefit helping me get by with groceries and gas.”
How will your family be impacted by the recent expiration of the monthly expanded Child Tax Credit?
On January 14, 2022 families should have received another monthly expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) payment. Instead, because of the Senate’s failure to pass the Build Back Better Act, tens of millions of families must contend with the impact of losing this essential cash benefit amid a still-worsening pandemic and the sharpest increase in cost of living in four decades.
We want to hear from you: How will your family be impacted by the recent expiration of the expanded Child Tax Credit?
The expansion of the Child Tax Credit is a critical down payment on ending child poverty and advancing racial equity in America. Monthly payments have the potential to provide income stability, security, and flexibility for families.
But the hard-won expansion is only for one year, and we have to seize this moment and demand this guaranteed income for children is made permanent. Join us in the fight: take action today.
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