Summary Lack of Awareness and Confusion over Eligibility Prevented Some Families from Getting Child Tax Credit Payments
Michael Karpman, Elaine Maag
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In 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act temporarily expanded the child tax credit (CTC) to provide a credit of up to $3,000 per child ages 6 to 17 and up to $3,600 per child under age 6. Many families with very low incomes, including some not typically required to file a tax return, were eligible for the expanded credit. The IRS automatically delivered monthly payments of the credit to most families with children, but some eligible families did not get them. 

Data from the Urban Institute’s December 2021 Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey show that among adults with children who reported they did not get the payments, nearly one in three did not think their household was eligible. Nearly one in four reported they were unaware of the credit or how to claim it.  Other reasons adults gave for not getting the payments were that someone outside the household claimed the credit for the children who live with them, that they opted out of the advance payments, or that they tried to claim the credit but did not receive the payments.

Research Areas Families Social safety net Taxes and budgets Children and youth
Tags Families with low incomes From Safety Net to Solid Ground Individual taxes Taxes and social policy Child Tax Credit
Policy Centers Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center Health Policy Center
Research Methods Data analysis Data collection Quantitative data analysis