Politics

Biden administration reups Child Tax Credit portal

The portal, GetCTC, had been taken offline earlier this year due to concerns it could cause confusion during the tax filing season.

An online portal designed to help very low-income people get the expanded Child Tax Credit reopened Wednesday, according to the nonprofit group that designed it in cooperation with the Biden administration.

The group, Code for America, said it also would collaborate with state benefits agencies to reach families that may not be aware they are eligible for the federal program.

The portal, GetCTC, had been taken offline earlier this year due to concerns it could cause confusion during the tax filing season.

Even though filing season has ended and the CTC expansion expired at the end of 2021, people who qualified can still get what they are owed. But they have to file a simplified tax return, which may be difficult for many who typically earn too little to file an annual return — less than $25,100 for married couples and $12,550 for single filers.

The relaunched GetCTC portal is meant to help recipients navigate the process with a return that requires only the information needed to tap the child credits. Recipients can also apply for any money they are owed from economic stimulus payments approved by Congress at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This helps low-income families who often face barriers when filing tax returns that require more, and sometimes complicated, documentation,” Code for America said in a statement. “GetCTC’s user-friendly, interview-style format prompts clients to answer one question at a time and guides them through the criteria that apply.”

The expanded CTC, a signature Democratic initiative that beefed up payments and made millions of more families eligible, was delivered in two tranches. Direct payments were sent out for six months and recipients could collect the rest by filing a tax return.

GetCTC was originally launched in September 2021 to aid people unfamiliar with the filing process and was used by more than 115,000 families to claim benefits, Code for America said. But the Biden administration took the portal offline in March when officials were worried it would interfere with an already difficult tax filing season if people who were required to file a normal return used the portal.

The move disappointed advocates for low-income families and was a setback for Democrats, most of whom want to make the credit expansion permanent but have run into staunch opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), whose vote would be needed.

The initial launch of GetCTC “was a successful proof of concept that allowed people to claim more than $400 million in tax benefits,” explained David Newville, Code for America’s senior program director for tax benefits.

In addition to claiming the CTC, people who are eligible can use the portal to access any money they are still owed from the third round of pandemic economic stimulus payments, which were worth up to $1,400 per family member.