Stimulus Update: 6 Things to Know About Child Tax Credits if You Don't Normally File Taxes

by Dana George | Published on July 1, 2021

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A mom and dad smiling and each holding their toddler and baby while eating breakfast at a sunny table.

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Whether or not you are required to file taxes, you are still eligible for Child Tax Credits.

Beginning July 15, families across the country will begin receiving monthly Child Tax Credit payments. The credit has been increased to $3,000 per child ages 6 to 17 and $3,600 per child under age 6 -- up from $2,000 per child.

The plan is for families to receive one-half of the credit between July and December of 2021 and claim the other half when they file their 2021 tax returns. Say a family has one 3-year-old child. Half of the Child Tax Credit would be $1,800 ($3,600 ÷ 2 = $1,800). Broken down into six monthly payments, that means this family would receive $300 per month through the end of the year. They can claim the other half of the credit (another $1,800) when they file 2021 taxes.

Here's what you should know about the Child Tax Credit if you don't earn enough to file a tax return.

1. You're still eligible

Families who are not required to file a tax return are still eligible to receive the Child Tax Credit. You are not required to file a tax return if you are:

  • A married couple earning less than $24,800 annually
  • Head of Household earning less than $18,650
  • Single filer earning less than $12,400

2. You won't lose benefits

If you're receiving federal benefits like SNAP and WIC, signing up for the Child Tax Credit will have no impact on them. That's because the Child Tax Credit does not count as income and won't change your eligibility status.

3. You can sign up online

Signing up is as easy as logging onto the IRS Child Tax Credit Non-filer Sign-up Tool and following the prompts.

Note: If possible, log in from a desktop or laptop computer. Advocacy groups say that the site is difficult to navigate from a mobile device.

4. You'll need to provide basic information

According to the IRS, here's the information you will need to provide:

  • Full name
  • Current mailing address
  • Email address
  • Date of birth
  • Valid Social Security numbers (or other taxpayer IDs) for you and your dependents
  • Routing and bank account number for your bank account, if you have one
  • The type of account you'd like the funds deposited into (for example, checking or savings)
  • Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) you received from the IRS earlier this year, if you received one

5. It's not too late to claim Economic Impact Payments

If you're not required to file income taxes and for some reason missed out on any of the direct stimulus payments, you are still due the funds. The good news is that you can use the same tool (IRS Child Tax Credit Non-filer Sign-up Tool) to claim missing stimulus funds.

6. There are exceptions

According to the IRS, you should not use this online tool if you:

  • Filed a 2020 tax return (or plan to file)
  • Claimed all your dependents on a 2019 tax return
  • Were married at the end of 2020 (unless you include your spouse's information)
  • Are a resident of a U.S. territory
  • Live in another country more than half the year (or you're married and your spouse's main home is outside the U.S. more than half the year)
  • Do not have a child who was born before 2021 and had a Social Security number issued before May 17, 2021.

These Child Tax Credit payments could be life-altering for some families, providing funds for basic living expenses. If your family is one of them, take this opportunity to sign up.

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