The new year is fast approaching, and with it, a new tax filing season. While simplified filing through GetCTC.org closed in November, families can still claim the expanded 2021 Child Tax Credit (CTC) if they have not done so already. Want to learn more about how you can help families get the 2021 CTC, as well as other federal and state money for which they might be eligible? Read below and consider joining our webinar, “All You Need to Know About the Child Tax Credit and Other Credits This Tax Season,” on January 19th. You can register here.
5 Ways You Can Help Families Get the Expanded 2021 CTC and Potentially Other Money
- Help families check if they already claimed the 2021 CTC
As you communicate with families about tax filing and the CTC, you may encounter individuals who are unsure whether they already claimed the 2021 credit. If someone did not submit a 2021 tax return – whether through full filing or simplified filing via GetCTC.org – they can file a prior year return this tax filing season to claim the money to which they are entitled. If someone did file a 2021 tax return, but does not know whether they claimed the CTC, they can use this flyer (available in English and Spanish) to confirm.
- If families have not yet claimed the 2021 CTC, let them know that there is still time
Families have until April 15, 2025 to claim the expanded 2021 CTC (and potentially other money like the Earned Income Tax Credit and third stimulus payment). Families who did not submit 2021 tax returns can file 2021 returns during the tax filing season in 2023 (if they are required to submit 2022 returns, or would benefit from doing so, they can submit both their 2021 and 2022 returns). There is no penalty for filing a late return if someone does not owe money. If they do owe money, the value of the CTC will probably be much more than any penalty. Families who submitted 2021 returns, but did not claim the CTC, can amend their returns. Learn more about amending tax returns here.
- Point people to free tax filing resources
Tax filing season will launch in early 2023. You can communicate to families when and where they can access free in-person or virtual tax preparation assistance. Options include:
- GetYourRefund.org: Families can access free virtual tax preparation assistance through GetYourRefund starting on January 31, 2023. This service was created by Code for America and is supported by the IRS, U.S. Department of Treasury, and the White House. GetYourRefund.org operates with an IRS-certified VITA tax team and offers chat support.
- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites: The IRS VITA program provides free in-person, and sometimes virtual, services to families with low-to-moderate incomes. People can look up their local VITA sites (and when they are open) here.
- Support families in preparing for tax filing season
Individuals may need time to gather necessary documents for tax filing, and to ensure their Individual Taxpayer Numbers (ITINs) are valid (if they plan to file using ITINs). Check out this IRS resource available in multiple languages, “Steps to Take Now to Get a Jump on Your Taxes.” Please note that in January, we will share additional outreach resources to help you communicate to families about tax credits and tax filing, including a tax filing document checklist, flyers, sample social media, etc.
- Encourage individuals in your network to become Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) volunteers
VITA provides free tax filing assistance to families with low and moderate incomes around the country, including support claiming tax credits like the CTC. One way to help more families claim the money to which they are entitled is to support efforts to increase VITA capacity. VITA sites are always looking for volunteers to help make their services available to as many families as possible. If individuals in your network may be interested in receiving training and becoming VITA volunteers, you can point them to their local VITA sites, using this IRS VITA locator tool. If you communicate with individuals across the country, you can point potential volunteers to this “IRS Tax Volunteers” site.