Child tax credit: New online site launched to help people receive payments

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President Joe Biden speaks about prescription drug prices and his “Build Back Better” agenda from the East Room of the White House, Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government has collaborated on a new internet site to help more Americans apply for and receive the expanded child tax credit, a monthly payment of as much as $300 per child that was part of the coronavirus relief package.

GetCTC.org was developed by Code for America in partnership with the White House and Treasury Department, according to a statement Wednesday. The goal is to provide a straightforward, online form that can be accessed via mobile phones for people who are not legally obligated to file taxes to apply for the tax credit because they don’t earn enough money.

“Our research really shows the simpler you make the process, the more likely people are going to actually successfully make it through,” David Newville, senior program director for tax benefits at Code for America, said in an interview.

Based on a demonstration provided to The Associated Press, it’s possible for a parent to complete the form over the course of just 20 or 25 slides. The online form is also available in Spanish, not just English.

Code for America has in the past worked with more than 100 partner organizations to help people prepare tax returns and the intention is to get more people signed up for the child tax credit. The government previously estimated that at least 88% of children were already able to receive the tax credit when payments began in July.

President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion in COVID-19 aid included an expansion of the child tax credit, extending it to families without any tax obligations. Parents of a child under the age of 6 can receive $3,600 annually, some of which can be paid out monthly at $300. Each child from the age of 6 to 17 qualifies for $3,000 annually, or $250 per month.

The expanded child tax credit is set to lapse after a year, though Biden has proposed extending it through 2025 and would like it to be made permanent. The credit appears to be making a meaningful difference as a Census survey indicated that food instability for families with children fell 24% after the first payments were issued.

The Biden administration has also emphasized the importance of ensuring as many people as possible receive the credit, which has meant greater community outreach and the new portal developed by Code for America.

There’s “no question you’re doing something this major this quickly there’s going to be wrinkles and bumps in the road, and we’re just as committed as we can be to smoothing them out as quickly as we can,” Gene Sperling, who is leading the oversight efforts of the relief payments for the Biden administration, said on a Wednesday call. “All of this has to be part of a very serious and concerted effort to get as many children signed up as we possibly can.”

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