Questions and Answers: The New Expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC)
Authored By: Northwest Justice Project
Learn who can get this and how it works. #2400EN
- What is the Child Tax Credit?
- How has the CTC been expanded?
- Do I qualify to get the CTC?
- How much will I get?
- I don’t qualify to get the full amount. Can I still get some CTC?
- Do I need to do anything to the CTC?
- How will I get it?
- I do not file taxes. Can I get the money anyway?
- I do not file taxes and I do not have a bank account. How can I get the money?
- Can I get the money for a foster child I take care of?
- I am an immigrant. Can I get the money?
- I am an immigrant. Does getting the money cause a public charge problem?
- I get TANF, food stamps, unemployment benefits, Social Security benefits, or Veteran’s benefits, or I live in public housing. Will this money affect my eligibility?
- Can the money be garnished?
- Will I have to pay this money back?
- Do I have to pay anything to get the CTC?
- Get Legal Help
*Read this only if you live in Washington State.
What is the Child Tax Credit?
The CTC is money you can get from the federal government if you have any children age 17 or under.
This money is to help you support your family. You can use it as you wish. You can use it to pay bills, rent, or mortgages, or to buy food and supplies.
How has the CTC been expanded?
In the past, you got this money only after you filed your taxes. In 2021, you will get some of this money as an advance, before you file your 2021 tax return. Also, the amount of money you can get has gone up in 2021.
Do I qualify to get the CTC?
Probably. Many families qualify.
How much will I get?
It depends on how many children you have, their ages, and your income.
Before 2021, you could get $2,000 for each child over the age of 6. Now you can get $3,000 for each child over age 6.
The amount has also gone up from $2,000 to $3,600 for children under the age of 6.
Before 2021, you could only get credit for your children up to age 16. Now you can get it for your children who are up to age 17.
You qualify to get the full amount of the CTC if you are in any of these categories:
Married couple with income under $150,000
Family with a single parent (also called Head of Household) with income under $112,500
Anyone else (such as a guardian or other person who has a child dependent) with income under $75,000
I don’t qualify to get the full amount. Can I still get some CTC?
Maybe. If you are in any of these categories, you will qualify for at least $2,000 of CTC ($166 per child each month):
Married couple with income under $400,000
Head of Household with income under $200,000
- Everyone else with income under $200,000
Do I need to do anything to the CTC?
No. The government started sending the money in July. You will get monthly payments through December 2021. When you file your taxes in 2022, you will get the remaining CTC benefit that you didn’t get through the monthly payments.
How will I get it?
You will get your payments by direct deposit or by mail. The IRS will use the banking information it already has on file for you to pay you.
I do not file taxes. Can I get the money anyway?
Yes. Couples making under $24,800 a year and heads of households making under $18,650 can use the new IRS non-filer portal (at https://www.irs.gov/credits-deductions/child-tax-credit-non-filer-sign-up-tool) to claim the CTC.
You will need the full names and Social Security numbers (or ITINs for qualifying parents) for all adults and children in your household, an email address to create an account, your address, and your banking information if you want to use direct deposit to get their payment.
I do not file taxes and I do not have a bank account. How can I get the money?
The IRS will send the CTC payment as a check to the address you give them. Or think about opening a bank account. Bankon.org, https://joinbankon.org/, has a list of low-cost, safe options available even for people who do not have a good credit history.
Can I get the money for a foster child I take care of?
Yes. You can get the CTC for your son, daughter, stepchild, eligible foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, half-brother, half-sister, or a descendant of any of them, including grandchildren, nieces or nephews. The child has to have lived in your household for more than a half of the year and you must claim them as a dependent if you are filing a tax return.
I am an immigrant. Can I get the money?
Maybe. If your child has a Social Security number and you have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), you can get the CTC if you meet income and eligibility requirements. (You can learn more about mixed-immigration-status and CTC eligibility here.)
If your child does not have a Social Security number, you are not eligible at this time to get the CTC.
*If your child was born in the U.S., you can get a Social Security number for them. To find out how, visit https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/. Scroll down to Social Security Numbers for Children. You can read this information in other languages or listen to a recording of it.
I am an immigrant. Does getting the money cause a public charge problem?
I get TANF, food stamps, unemployment benefits, Social Security benefits, or Veteran’s benefits, or I live in public housing. Will this money affect my eligibility?
No, not for any of those.
Programs such as SSI have strict rules about how much in resources (money or assets you have ready access to) you can have and still get the CTC. We recommend you spend the money within 12 months of getting it.
Can the money be garnished?
Yes. There are no protections from garnishment for tax credits.
Will I have to pay this money back?
There is a chance that could happen. The CTC amount you get is based on your 2019-2020 income data. If you got a better paying job, or other increase in taxable income, you might have to pay back some or all of the CTC during the 2022 tax year.
If this describes your situation, you can choose not to get any advance payment. You have until August 30 to opt out of the remaining monthly payments starting in September. To do this, visit https://www.irs.gov/credits-deductions/child-tax-credit-update-portal. You may still get the CTC when you file your tax return.
Do I have to pay anything to get the CTC?
No! The government will not call or email asking for money or your Social Security Number. If you get any threatening phone calls asking you to give up your payment, report them here: https://oig.hhs.gov/fraud/report-fraud
Get Legal Help
Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to get legal help.