Families with kids must file taxes to get remaining Child Tax Credit benefits

The clock is ticking for families with kids to get thousands of dollars from the federal government.

Eligible families must file their taxes first if they want to get those remaining benefits for the Child Tax Credits. The first six payments were given monthly last July to December.

Census Bureau surveys show these benefits have helped millions of families cover expenses for daycare and school supplies, but members of the Children’s Defense Fund say some families are hesitant to file their taxes because there’s some miscommunication about the process.

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The White House estimates nearly 40 million families will benefit from the Child Tax Credits this year. Families are eligible for $3,000 per child ages 6-17 years old and $3,600 per child under 6 but they must file their taxes first.

“There’s a real miscommunication and misunderstanding that tax credits don’t impact public benefits because they’re not counted as income,” said Emma Mehrabi, Director of federal policy at the Children’s Defense Fund.

The Children’s Defense Fund is one of many nonprofits nationwide helping families with this process. Mehrabi said some families are concerned about filing their taxes and losing other support.

“This is federal money that is owed to you,” she said. “This is not going to count against SNAP, does not count against social security.”

Mehrabi said immigrant families are concerned about getting rounded up by immigration if they file their taxes and she said that isn’t the case either.

Congress hasn’t extended the Child Tax Credits but Republican Senator Mitt Romney is proposing a similar plan called the Family Security Act.

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He said it would help nearly three million kids get out of poverty.

“On top of that, we have not comprehensively reformed our family support system in nearly three decades, and our changing economy has left millions of families behind,” said Sen. Romney in a statement.

The plan would give families even higher monthly payments but it would cut other federal benefits like portions of SNAP to pay for it.

“We don’t need to be cutting out our public benefit programs in order to pay for it,” said Mehrabi. “Notably if you really wanted to make sure that this program was paid for, we don’t have to do it on the backs of families…we can do it by taxing billionaires and corporations at a much higher rate.”

You can file for an extension with the IRS and this would give you until this fall to file your taxes and get those remaining benefits.

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