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Can I claim the Child Tax Credit if I have not filed a tax return?

The 2022 tax deadline has come and gone, for those filers who still haven’t filed, the IRS urges them to submit their 2021 tax returns as soon as possible.

Taxpayers need to get 2021 tax return submitted to get Child Tax Credit
Victoria Jones - PA ImagesGetty

The official deadline for most taxpayers to file 2021 tax returns was 18 April 2022, but days prior to that date around 66 million filers had yet to send in their tax declaration. Not to fret though, the IRS is still accepting taxpayers’ annual income reports and the sooner you file the better.

The IRS urged all Americans, even those who are not required, to file this year, especially given the enhanced tax credits that were available for the 2021 fiscal year, including the Child Tax Credit. The agency advises those taxpayers who owe taxes to “file now to limit penalties and interest.”

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The 2021 Child Tax Credit can only be claimed by filing a tax return

Taxpayers that don’t owe taxes will not be penalized for filing late and can still claim the Child Tax Credit for the 2021 tax year. Technically, these taxpayers can submit a 2021 tax return to claim the up to $3,600 per child and other tax credits available in the 2021 fiscal year at any time until 15 April 2025. The IRS points out that many families with children in Puerto Rico are eligible to claim the Child Tax Credit for the first time in history.

Other credits that could result in lowering your tax burden or even a larger refund include the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. The latter was made refundable in 2021, meaning the up to $8,000 taxpayers could get reimbursed on expenses for daycare and such would show up on tax refunds if that amount, and other refundable credits claimed, exceed any taxes owed.

Households that welcomed a new member to their family could be eligible for $1,400 third Economic Impact Payment, better known as the third stimulus check. They will need to claim the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit.

In order to have their tax returns processed faster, the IRS encourages taxpayers to file electronically, including the agency’s Free File which will be available through 17 October to prepare and submit 2021 tax returns.

2021 Child Tax Credit

Eligible parents that didn’t opt out should have already received monthly payments from the enhanced Child Tax Credit for the 2021 fiscal year. But those payments only represented half of the total credit they could be eligible for. The remaining portion of the credit for each child under age 17 can be claimed on 2021 tax returns.

Not everyone chose to receive the advance payments on the credit and some families that aren’t required to file tax returns never got signed up. These taxpayers will be able to claim the full amount they are due when they file.

In either situation, taxpayers with children could be looking at a healthy tax refund in 2022 with just the 2021 Child Tax Credit. Eligible parents can claim up to $3,600 for every child under the age of six and up to $3,000 per child six to 17 years old at the end of 2021.

Those that received advance payments will need to subtract the amount that they received last year from the remaining amount that they qualify for. The IRS has sent letters to recipients, but taxpayers can also check how much they received using your IRS Online Account.

In order to be eligible for the full amount of the 2021 Child Tax Credit, a filer’s AGI had to be less than $75,000 if single, $112,500 as head of household or $150,000 if married and filing jointly. Above those thresholds the credit gradually reduced to $2,000, the amount taxpayers could claim before the increase for 2021 only. That amount phases out when a taxpayer’s AGI exceeds $400,000 for those who file married and filing jointly and $200,000 for all other filing statuses.

In both cases, the credit is reduced by $50 for each $1,000 increment in AGI above the thresholds, or fraction thereof. So, for example, if your AGI is $1,000.01 above the threshold, the amount of the credit you can claim goes down $100.


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