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Families to begin receiving monthly child tax credit payments July 15

Most families will get the expanded child tax credit based on their last tax return, but families who don’t file taxes are still eligible.
Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 10:23 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Starting in mid-July, families eligible for the expanded child tax credit will start receiving their monthly payments. Families will see up to $300 for kids under six and $250 for kids ages six to 17. The monthly payments will last the next six months, and families will receive the remaining half to the tax credit when they file 2021 taxes the following year.

About 90 percent of kids and families in the country are eligible for some credit, according to UW-Madison professor of public affairs Tim Smeeding. Smeeding said about 80 percent of families will hear from the IRS directly because they filed 2019 or 2020 tax return, but other families still have options.

“It’s a recognition that children are expensive and that society has a shared interest in seeing that they do well,” Smeeding said of the expanded credit.

He explained families can use the money for rent, child care or other expenses like utilities.

“This is really transformative and it’s huge for most families,” he said.

Smeeding explained most families will receive the credit based on their last tax return, and the money will be deposited directly into their bank account or mailed as a check to their last known address. For families who do not typically file a return, the IRS has a Non-filer Sign-up Tool on its website.

“You go on, you put your kid’s Social Security Number in, you put the address in, you put some other information in and the IRS tells you to get that ready and then you become eligible,” Smeeding described.

Families can also find a tax professional or a community organization offering similar resources for help filling out a full tax return.

“There are people all over the state who are there to help you get the benefit to which you’re eligible, and we really want everyone to get it because again, it’s truly transformative,” Smeeding said.

Smeeding noted the child tax credit also applies to kids who live with other family members like grandparents.

“If those grandparents are providing half of the support for the child and the child is living with them for at least half the year, those grandparents are eligible,” he said. He added if grandparents have not previously claimed the children on their latest tax return, they should go on the IRS website or contact the IRS to make sure they are able to receive the payments.

Smeeding also added the child tax credit will not affect other government assistance.

“It does not count against SNAP, against FoodShare, it does not count for public housing, it does not count against Medicaid,” he explained.

Right now, the child tax credit is only for 2021, but Smeeding said he and his colleagues hopes seeing the program in action will lead to an extension or permanent program.

“Hopefully as the word gets out of how important this is to working class families, not just the poor, working class families, families who make $40, $50, $60,000 a year, how important this is, then there’s going to be a lot of pressure on Washington to make this permanent,” he said.

Smeeding said families can opt out of receiving the payment monthly through an online portal. If people opt out, they will get the full amount—up to $3,000 or $3,6000 per child—when they file 2021 taxes next year.

NBC15 also reached out to United Way of Dane County to comment on what they have heard from families. In a statement, senior director of strategic collaborations Hayley Chesnik said in part, “It will put more money back into families’ pockets and boost their incomes so they can support their basic needs like food, rent and utilities, which we know from the large influx of calls to United Way’s 211 helpline over the past year has been a struggle for many families.”

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