WASHINGTON D.C. – If you’re raising children under 17 the IRS wants to send you money even if you’re not working. The Internal Revenue Service has updated its website and now has instructions in English and Spanish to help people navigate the upcoming tax season.
Child Tax Credits are intended to support low-income families and that includes non-filers, too.
“For 2021, it’s up to $3000 for each qualifying child, age 6-17, and $3600 per qualifying child under the age of six,” said Ken Corbin, IRS Commissioner of Wage and Investment Division.
To check eligibility use the advanced the child credit eligibility assistance tool at www.IRS.gov for help and to get information about advanced tax credit payments. It is interactive and available in English and Spanish.
“Taxpayers can benefit from the credit even if they don’t have earned income or don’t owe any income taxes,” Corbin said. The child tax credit is not taxable and not counted as income.
The IRS non-filer tool is for people who are not required to file a 2021 tax return and don’t intend to. This tool can also be used by taxpayers who did not get the full amount of the first two rounds of the economic impact payments in 2020.
The Child Tax Credit Update portal is a new feature on the IRS website. It lets families un-enroll or opt out of advanced payments. Some people prefer to claim the entire credit on their taxes and some know they will no longer be eligible for the child tax credit in 2021.
The portal allows families to check for eligibility, switch from paper checks to direct deposit, change the account where the payment are made, and update their address.
In coming months, people will be able to add or subtract children, report a change in martial status, or report a significant change in income.
The payments are popular. Last year 39 million American families got the child credit. But you can’t use them to offset overdue taxes from previous years, other federal payments due, or unpaid past child support payments. If you receive an advance child credit payment under federal law, it won’t be garnished by the feds but some states and banks or private loan creditors can garnish them.
You can reconcile your advanced payments; only half were delivered in 2021. You must file a 2021 return to get the other half of the credit. IRS will send taxpayers a letter in December confirming the amount of advanced child tax credit and the economic impact payments they received in 2021. Don’t throw it away. You will need to fill our your 2021 income tax return.
“The main message is to file a tax return or use the non-filer tool to claim them,” Corbin said. If you have a question about your eligibility use the tools at www.IRS.gov or consult the FAQ section on the IRS website.
“These credits are a great deal of money in many households,” said Susan Simon, IRS Director of Customer Assistance.
“This is more money than they see in one lump sum throughout the year, so it’s very important that they ensure that someone else does not get that money,” she said.
Simon warned about fraudsters who are trying to fleece people out of the new money. She said that identity theft is how scammers steal new payments from the unwitting.
“Go to www.IRS.gov/security to see the steps that taxpayers can take to protect themselves from identity theft, from someone else claiming the money that is rightfully theirs,” Simon said.
This year there is a Form 9000 that can be attached to the tax return. It’s called the alternative media preference form. Taxpayers can select to get tax materials sent to them in Braille, large print, or audio.
Simon urged taxpayers to set up a bank account and have refunds automatically deposited. That prevents someone from stealing a check out of your mailbox. Simon said people who do not have social security numbers but use a Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), should check if it is current. They can expire after three years.
“We have special procedures; we have special people at the IRS and their whole job is to help taxpayers,” Simon said.
She encouraged everyone to register for their online tax account. It’s new. “You can go on line and look at what you have in our record,” she said.
You can verify your identity online, access your personal tax information, and also you can do things that you would normally have to go to one of the IRS offices to do or call IRS and wait for the phone to be answered.
“We have many many ways for taxpayers to get help,” Simon said.
Many people use a local paid tax preparer. There is an online Free File option at www.IRS.gov. It allows a taxpayer to sit at home, select a tax return preparer, file their return with the assistance of the online preparer, and send it in electronically. “If they have direct deposit that makes the whole process quicker, easier, and safer for our taxpayers,” she said.
Another way to get tax help is with Volunteers in Taxpayer Assistance (VITA). Sites around the country help taxpayers fill out their returns for free. However, most were virtual in 2020 because of COVID-19 but some volunteers will be preparing tax returns in person this filing season. Those sites can be found at www.IRS.gov.
“Starting this year all vita sites will have the ability to provide translation services over the phone in 350 languages for taxpayers, “ Simon said. Translation services are also available for phone calls to the IRS.
Simon said that Form 1040 is in English and Spanish. Other documents are available in five other languages: English, Spanish, Russian, traditional Chinese, formal Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean. If you go to www.IRS.gov at the top of the page there is a drop down menu where you can select a language.