Parents and caregivers of Northeast Ohio: Monday, Nov. 15 is the deadline to make sure you receive advance payments from the expanded child tax credit program.
Most parents and caregivers are eligible for thousands of dollars in assistance, with decreasing levels of money available for those making above $150,000 per year for married couples, above $112,500 per year as a head of household, or above $75,000 per year for a single parent.
The advance child tax credit payments were created by the American Rescue Plan passed earlier this year. While monthly payments for many parents and caregivers started being sent out in July, some in Northeast Ohio have not yet received them. The caregivers of an estimated 116,500 children in Ohio did not automatically receive those advance payments, according to the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities.
The one-time advance payments are substantial, equaling $1,800 per-child for children under the age of six, and $1,500 per-child for children ages six-17. An additional $1,800 or $1,500 per-child is also available after you claim them on your 2021 taxes. Some families already have been getting $250 or $300 per-child installments each month between July and December of this year.
If you haven’t received the advance payments yet, we’ll explain how you can below. And even if you miss the Nov. 15 deadline, you can still receive this money, but not until you file your 2021 taxes.
The IRS has its own helpful FAQ on its website. Here’s a video explainer on what the advance child tax credit payments are from the IRS, as well:
Below are answers to common questions about the child tax credits:
How do I sign up for the early payments if I didn’t get them automatically deposited?
There’s a number of reasons why some people have not yet received the advance payments in their bank accounts automatically. Most often, it’s because these people didn’t file their taxes in 2020. In the government’s lingo, this makes you a “non-filer.”
But that’s okay, because there’s an online tool you can use to sign up for the advance payments.
Before you start, you’ll need Social Security numbers for your children and yourself and your spouse if you have one. You’ll also want:
A reliable mailing address or P.O. Box
Date of birth for each family member
Your bank account information (if you want to receive your payment by direct deposit)
Am I eligible for the payments if my child is adopted, or I’m caring for a child that isn’t mine?
In many cases, yes. As long as the child is: “your son, daughter, stepchild, eligible foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, half-brother, half-sister, or a descendant of any of them (for example, a grandchild, niece, or nephew),” according to the White House’s guide on filing for the tax credit. You don’t need legal guardianship of the child, but you do need to be able to claim them as a dependent on your taxes.
The child also must also be under 17 (they cannot turn 18 before 2021 ends); and be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or U.S. resident alien; and must live with you for more than one half of 2021.
What if I’m not very good with computers, or don’t have an email?
Cleveland has an Ohio Taxpayer Assistance Center where you can call and make an appointment to get help with signing up for the child tax credit. It is likely very busy though, so call soon. Office information is available at (216) 415-3442, and you can make an appointment by calling (844) 545-5640.
I don’t have a bank account – can I still get the advance payments?
You can get the advance tax credit payments mailed to your address. There will be a section of the non-filer form where you can sign up for this.
I don’t have a current address – how can I get help?
When filling out the non-filer form, you can pick an address or P.O. Box that you trust and have the payments mailed there.
Will the advance payments count as income, pushing me into a higher income bracket?
No. The child tax credit does not count as income for any family, so you won’t lose any other government benefits (like SNAP or WIC) that you qualify for.
Will taking the advance payments hurt me come tax time next year?
For most families, as long as you fill out the forms accurately, the answer is no. Although everyone has their own unique circumstances when it comes to their taxes.
What happens if I miss the Nov. 15 deadline?
That’s alright, you’ll still be able to claim the child tax credit on your taxes when you file them in 2022.
What if I’m divorced, and we alternate turns in claiming the children as benefits from one year to the next?
According to the IRS, the IRS will base the advance child tax credit payments on the most recently filed tax return for your family (either 2019 or 2020). Therefore, any advance payments are scheduled to automatically go to the most recent parent to claim the child.
What if I’m an undocumented immigrant but I want to file to receive these benefits for my children? Can the government use this information to find me?
No. According to Alex Coccia, an expert on the child tax credit with the Center for Study of Social Policy, the IRS cannot share any information submitted to them with federal immigration enforcement authorities.
There’s also a great FAQ on the child tax credit for mixed immigration-status families here.
What if I do not have a Social Security number?
You can file for what’s called an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN, with the IRS, and you can instead use that on your application form for the child tax credit. You can apply for it here. This is also something you should try to do ASAP – we do not know how quick the turnaround is on this.
However, in order for your children to be eligible for the tax credit, they will still need a Social Security number.
Can the child tax credit money I receive be garnished if I owe money, like for child support payments?
According to the IRS, yes, the advance payments can be garnished for debts owed to non-federal creditors, but no, they cannot be immediately garnished for child support or back taxes. However, when tax time comes, any refund you receive due to the child tax credit will be reduced by however much you owe in child support, back taxes, and other debts to government or private creditors and debt collectors.
This story is a part of the Northeast Ohio Solutions Journalism Collaborative’s Making Ends Meet project. NEO SoJo is composed of 18-plus Northeast Ohio news outlets including The Land. Conor Morris is a corps member with Report for America. Want to talk about the child tax credit? Email him at [email protected]