Child Tax Credit: White House urges parents to file taxes to get 2nd half of payments

The White House on Tuesday is launching an outreach campaign to get millions of families to file their tax returns in 2022 so they can receive the second half of payments from the expanded child tax credit.

Vice President Kamala Harris, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and White House senior adviser Gene Sperling hosted a "Day of Action" virtual event in the morning to encourage people to send their 2021 tax return forms to the IRS, including those whose incomes are so low that they might not have traditionally filed.

The event also included several lawmakers and nonprofits. There are plans to hold events in all 50 states and Puerto Rico during the tax filing season, according to the Associated Press, citing an anonymous White House official.

The expanded Child Tax Credit program and tax season 2022

The expanded program, passed in 2021 as part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, boosted the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 to $3,000 for every child ages 6 to 17, and up to $3,600 for every child under the age of 6. It was based on 2019 and 2020 tax returns — intended to help struggling families during the pandemic.

It essentially advanced some tax relief that would normally come the following year when parents file their taxes. Instead, most eligible families started receiving payments on a monthly basis starting in July 2021 — meaning that there are six months worth of payments waiting to be claimed by people filing their taxes.

Eligibility for the expanded Child Tax Credit program included people earning $75,000 or less, married couples making $150,000 or less, and a single parent filing as the head of household making up to $112,500.

Studies have suggested that the child tax credit expansions could cut child poverty by 40% — with 9 of 10 American children benefiting, according to an analysis from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

But the program of monthly checks expired at the end of 2021 after Congress failed to pass legislation that would have extended it, tied to Biden’s stalled $2 trillion social and environmental spending bill.

The payments as a result of filing taxes this season would come at a moment when families are coping with rising prices for food, gasoline and other goods relative to a year ago. Administration officials estimate that $193 billion would go to 58 million eligible households that file taxes, meaning that families would receive credits on their taxes or refunds averaging $3,330 from this provision.

Earned Income Tax Credit: Eligible workers without children can also get tax relief

Workers without children could also get additional help this tax season if they file. The Earned Income Tax Credit aims to help low- to moderate-income workers and families get a tax break. 

The relief package nearly tripled the earned income tax credit for workers without dependent children, meaning that 17 million people could receive credits worth $1,500.

The IRS outlines the basic Earned Income Tax Credit qualifications and instructions on how to claim the credit for past tax years on its website.

US relaunches Child Tax Credit website

The Biden administration has also relaunched a "new and improved" — which has new features aimed at helping taxpayers file and access the remainder of the expanded Child Tax Credit, the full amount of the Child Tax Credit, and/or the Earned Income Tax Credit.

"To help Americans navigate tax filing season, the website features a new tool that directs taxpayers to free assisted filing options that suit them based on answers to a handful of simple questions," the White House said in a statement. "These options include both virtual and in-person support in multiple languages."

It also includes a tool to determine those who are eligible.

When can you file your taxes?

The tax-filing season started on Jan. 23 and the return is considered filed on time if the envelope is properly addressed, postmarked, and deposited in the mail by the due date, according to the IRS.

If an individual can’t file their tax return by the April 18 due date, they should request an extension of time to file. To receive an automatic six-month extension, individuals should file Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return by the due date of the return.

An extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay. According to the IRS, you may be subject to a late payment penalty on any tax not paid by the original due date of your return.

The IRS also has guidelines for members of the military who need an extension to file their taxes.

Special rules may apply to service members who served or are currently serving in the Armed Forces in a combat zone or a contingency operation, or become hospitalized as a result of serving in the military. Individuals generally have at least 180 days after they leave the designated combat zone/contingency operation to file and pay taxes.

This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press and Daniel Miller contributed.