Get that money now: Expanded tax credits can help families meet their basic needs and thrive
By Will Petrik of Policy Matters Ohio and Katherine Ungar, J.D. with Children's Defense Fund of Ohio
All of us, no matter what we look like or where we live, deserve to thrive and pursue our dreams. COVID-19 forced businesses and schools to close, upending life throughout the country. Many people had to put their dreams on hold. In response, the federal government passed legislation to provide immediate relief to children, adults and families by temporarily expanding tax credits. This will put more money in people’s pockets to build toward a brighter future and help pay for the basics, like groceries, rent and child care.
You may be eligible to get thousands of dollars back when you file your federal taxes this year. Here are several cash benefits to be aware of:
- The child tax credit: Most families with children under 18 are eligible for the expanded child tax credit, including families who don’t usually file taxes. If you received monthly checks between July and December 2021, you need to file a tax return to get the other half of the tax credit. If you didn’t get monthly payments last year, you can get the full credit when you file your taxes. If you had a baby in 2021, you’re likely eligible for $3,600.
- The earned income tax credit: If you worked and were paid low wages in 2021, you may be eligible to get money back at tax time or decrease the federal taxes you owe. More people than ever are eligible for this credit.
- The child and dependent care tax credit: If you have children under age 13 and paid for child care to work or look for work in 2021, you could be eligible for up to $8,000. This credit helps offset 2021 child care expenses or the care of an adult dependent who is unable to care for themselves.
- The third stimulus check: If you didn’t receive the third stimulus check (which was $1,400 per person) in 2021, you can get your payment when you file taxes. If you had a baby in 2021, you’re likely eligible for an additional $1,400.
How much money could I receive?
Each of the tax credits have different eligibility levels, based on your filing status (single, head of household, or married filing jointly), income, and number of eligible children or dependents. See if you’re eligible for any of the tax credits and estimate how much you could receive based on your unique household and situation with one of the simple-to-use calculators below:
- How much $$ can I receive from the Child Tax Credit?
- How much $$ can I receive from the Child and Dependent Care Credit?
- How much $$ can I receive from the Earned Income Tax Credit?
Get your refund today
To get the payments you’re entitled to, you will need to file a 2021 tax return (which you file this year). Even if you have never filed taxes or earn little to no money and are not required to file taxes, it is worth filing this year to get money back to help pay for things like groceries or car repairs.
- Visit GetYourRefund.org/CTCOH to file online with virtual help (income must be under $73,000).
- Find a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site near you, where you can get help in person (income must be under $58,000).
- File online without assistance here.
The deadline to file your taxes this year is April 18, 2022. If you make less than $12,400 (filing individually) or $24,800 (filing jointly), there will be additional opportunities to file your taxes through a simplified filing portal later in the spring.
Tax credits provide economic security and stability
More than 1.2 million Ohio families received monthly Child Tax Credit (CTC) payments between July and December of 2021. These payments had an immediate impact, taking stress off families and making it easier for more families to afford the basics, like groceries, rent, child care and educational expenses. People also spent money at local businesses, saved for a house, and paid off debt.
Research shows that when families have the resources they need to meet their basic needs, kids are healthier, get better grades in school, and earn more during their lifetime compared to kids living in deep poverty. Research also shows an association between expansions of the federal earned income tax credit (EITC) and increased birth weight. This is why it is critical for everyone to get the money that belongs to them.
What can you do to help?
Thousands of eligible children, adults and families are at risk of not getting the money they are eligible for. All of us can help make families aware of tax credits.
If you’re involved in an organization that serves children, adults, and families, you can help people you serve get money that belongs to them. Save the date for a webinar, cohosted by Policy Matters Ohio and Children’s Defense Fund of Ohio, this Wednesday, March 16 from noon – 1:00 pm to learn more about how to help families in your network get that money too.