As Democrats tout the start Thursday of advance monthly payments of a tax credit for parents of children up to age 18, some advocates for taxpayers are concerned about issues of accessibility and confusion around the program intended to reduce child poverty.
After receiving a series of pandemic relief checks already, recipients may not realize that the new monthly payments they’ll get through the end of this year mean a lower refund or bigger tax bill in 2022. And Internal Revenue Service tools are posing problems for households, tax experts say, including difficulty in navigating the program website on a smartphone, which is also required if a taxpayer wants to opt out.
“The concern for me is that signing up is not easy for the most vulnerable people, and it is also not easy for people who do not want to receive the advance payments to unenroll,” said Nina Olson, executive director of the Center for Taxpayer Rights and a former national taxpayer advocate, an independent post within the IRS.
Olson said that while there’s been an unprecedented push from officials and advocacy or community groups to get information out on the expanded child tax credit, the quick timeline to get it in place has contributed to concerns.
Parents with children who filed tax returns in 2019 or 2020 or who signed up as a nonfiler to get a pandemic relief payment last year are set to automatically receive up to $300 per child on Thursday, the first of six installments through the end of 2021. Recipients can opt out of the early payments, and people who don’t file tax returns can still sign up to start receiving monthly payments in August. The early checks would amount to half the total credit, and the remainder will be included in tax returns next year.