Child Tax Credit: Parents Must File Tax Returns by May 17 Deadline to Qualify

The expanded credit will be disbursed monthly through December 2021.

Mark Lennihan/AP

American families could receive payments from the new $3,000 child tax credit as soon as July, but in order for that to happen, parents must file their individual income taxes by the May 17 deadline, even if they had no income to report.

The widely-expanded child tax credit was included in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan signed into law by President Joe Biden in March. Under the law, families will receive a $3,000 annual benefit per child ages 6 to 17 and $3,600 per child under the age of 6 for the 2021 tax year.

In a news release Friday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker encouraged families in need of assistance to apply "to ensure they get the relief they deserve.”

The full credit amount is available to individuals who have children and adjusted gross income of less than $75,000, or $150,000 for a married couple filing jointly. The extra benefit will phase out for taxpayers who make more money, and cease for individuals earning $95,000 and married couples earning $170,000 filing jointly.

The expanded credit will be disbursed monthly through December 2021. The monthly amounts generally will be $250 for older children and $300 for children under the age of six. Families will claim the remaining half of the credit when they file their 2021 income tax return in 2022.

There is no limit on the number of children in a family that can receive the credit, as long as they meet the eligibility requirements around age and income.

About 83 million children live in households that would benefit from the expansion of the child tax credit, according to a study from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. In addition, the poorest 20% of families would see income increase by more than 37% during the year that the policy is in place.

Qualifications for the 2021 Child Tax Credit include:

• Income of $112,500 if filing as head of household
• Income below $150,000 for filing jointly 
• Income below $75,000 for single filers
• Reduced credit may be available to taxpayers with income above the threshold amounts.
• Filer must have provided at least half of the child’s support during the last year
• Child must have lived with tax filer for at least six months or more
• File 2020 individual income taxes by May 17 deadline
• If taxpayer already filed taxes, an amendment may be submitted 
• If a taxpayer is unable to file by May 17, a request for extension may be filed

Source: Illinois Department of Revenue

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