Child Tax Credit – More money is available, find out how to get your full payment

January 2022 is first time in six months that most families with young children will not be getting a Child Tax Credit payment from the federal government on the 15th.

The American Rescue Plan Act only authorized advanced payments for the last six months of 2021.  This does not mean the advanced payments are gone forever; discussions continue in Congress about bringing back the advanced payments, but, at least for now, families must adjust to no longer receiving these payments. 

However, it isn’t all bad news. The payments families received in 2021 were only half of the amount of the credit.  When taxpayers file their 2021 tax returns in the next couple of months, they will be able to claim the remainder of the credit. For most families this will be $1500 for each dependent child between ages 6-17 and $1800 for each dependent child under the age of 6. This includes families who may not regularly file tax returns. For example, families with very low incomes and/or whose main income is social security.  We strongly encourage any family with dependent children to file a 2021 tax return to claim this credit. 

Anyone who received advanced child tax credit payments in 2021 will receive a letter from the IRS in late January or early February explaining the amount of advanced credit that has already been paid. This letter will look a lot like the letters that taxpayers received after getting their stimulus check payments in 2020 and 2021. Taxpayers should review this letter or bring it to their tax preparer so it can be included on their 2021 tax filing. For those who are missing some or all of their advanced child tax credit payments, this letter will show the amount of the missing payment(s) and that amount will be included in the taxpayer’s refund payment.

If a taxpayer received more advanced child tax credit payments than they are able to claim on their 2021 tax return, they may need to pay back some of the money to the IRS.  However, some taxpayers may qualify for full or partial repayment protection. If a taxpayer meets the following income limitations and has lived in the United States for over half of 2021, they should qualify for protections and not be required to repay any extra advance payments. Contact Legal Aid if you should qualify for this protection but do not receive it.

Filing Status

Income at or below

Married Filing Jointly, Qualifying Widow(er)

$60,000

Head of Household

$50,000

Single, Married Filing Separately

$40,000

 

Tax filing season opens on January 24, 2022 and taxes are due for most taxpayers on April 18, 2022.  If you need assistance filing taxes, you may qualify for free filing assistance through the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs. 

You can check for the nearest tax preparation assistance site to you by calling 211 or checking https://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/

Taxpayers with income below $72,000 can also file their federal taxes for free with the IRS Free File program- more information is available at https://www.irs.gov/filing/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-free

If you need assistance with a tax issue, please contact Legal Aid of Nebraska’s helplines: https://www.legalaidofnebraska.org/how-we-help/call-for-help/

 

Shailana Dunn-Wall (she/her/hers), Fellowship Staff Attorney, is the author of this article. 

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