Code for America (CfA) recently released a resource, getCTC.org, to help families who qualify for the Child Tax Credit (CTC).
The CTC was increased as part of the US bailout, signed in March 2021. The resource is separate from getyourrefund.org, a similar CfA resource unveiled in 2020 to help people with the full tax filing process.
The web resource was something CfA decided to create a few months ago in anticipation of the many expected credit issues, according to David Newville, senior director of the tax benefits program at CfA.
The website was created to help people overcome the challenges of navigating a complex tax system, he said. It was designed with those who haven’t recently – or never – filed a tax return in mind.
Newville says the CTC is more confusing than most new tax provisions aimed at low-income families because it is one of the first attempts at monthly advance payments. Plus, it happens outside of tax season, which can be tricky for those who don’t follow this process closely.
“This benefit – thanks to the expansion of eligibility for the child tax credit in general – is available to a whole new group of families who have generally not been eligible for tax benefits,” Newville explained.
He was referring to families with little or no income who have traditionally been completely outside the tax system and therefore were unaware of the reporting process. He said it was a “very steep learning curve”.
Newville noted that the process is becoming increasingly complicated for non-traditional families, including those with shared custody of a child or other unique circumstances that can further complicate tax filing.
Right now, the website has a list of frequently asked questions in plain language with the latest information from the IRS, which will be updated as new information is released. New features will also be released regularly, Newville explained.
A key element in making this resource accessible is that the information is also available in Spanish, which differentiates this resource from the IRS Non-Filer Portal.
Another important feature is the live chat feature at the bottom of the page. This allows users to connect with a human to ask questions that may not be displayed. If users ask a question in the after-hours live chat box, a human will contact them.
“It’s really important to do more than just [raise] awareness, ”Newville explained. “You need to provide resources and tools that make it easy for people to go through the filing process and potentially get those benefits. “
Upcoming features will go even further to enable families to get the help they need, but as Newville explained, there was an urgent need to release a basic version of the website as soon as possible – which it calls a “version 1.0.”
Most important will be the creation of a portal – comparable to what CfA has done for Economic Impact Payments with getyourrefund.org – to make this process accessible to more families. By adapting it to mobile devices and offering it in multiple languages, it aims to simplify the deposit process.
Newville expects the portal component to be available later this summer.
Unlike the previous portal, which used the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, limited availability of resources and volunteers caused CfA to take a different approach for CTC.
CfA has applied for an electronic return sender and software development certifications issuer from the IRS, as Newville stated, allowing the organization to create its own software and electronic file directly outside of VITA. for the CTC income procedure.
Another addition will be a website section dedicated to organizations working to raise awareness to help families, especially non-tax filers. CfA will also add videos, material and more – what they call “navigation resources” – based on the Affordable Care Act’s navigation agenda.
The CTC resource complements the previous getyourrefund.org, Newville said. Users of the CTC resource can be directed to getyourrefund.org if they are found eligible for other benefits, such as the earned income tax credit, which may make it beneficial to file a full return.