May 18—As part of the American Rescue Plan, congressmen in the Rio Grande Valley urge families to file their 2020 taxes before the June 15 deadline to receive child tax credit monthly payments.
Families could receive monthly payments of up to $300 beginning July if they file with the Internal Revenue Service.
"You need to file your taxes so you're on their radar and you start receiving their checks as soon as possible," U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, said last Friday at a news conference. "If we successfully file our taxes we're gonna see an estimated 10,700 children in the 15th congressional district lifted out of deep poverty."
The best way to ensure eligible families receive their payments is to file a 2020 tax return, even if they don't have earnings to report or don't normally file.
"For those who have dependent children, it has never been more important to file taxes to qualify for the expanded and improved child tax credit," said U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, in a news release. "This payment will help South Texas families provide basic necessities to their children ranging from clothes, school supplies, childcare and anything in between."
The American Rescue Plan has expanded the child tax credit up to $3,600 per child for children 5 and under and $3,000 per child for children ages 6 to 17.
Beginning as soon as July and running through December, qualifying families will receive a portion on a monthly basis, so they should not expect that $3,000 or $3,600 in one month.
It will be based on their income and they will receive payments of up to $300 for children 5 and under and $250 for children ages 6 to 17 over a 12-month period.
Families will get their remaining expanded child tax credit when they file their 2021 tax return.
With this initiative, 94.5% of children in the 15th District of Texas will benefit. The aim is for the child tax credit to lift 29,300 children in the 15th District out of poverty.
Families can qualify for full credit if their income is below $75,000 for single filers, $112,000 for people filing as head of household, or $150,000 for people who are married and filing jointly.
Children must have a Social Security number, live with the tax filer for at least half of the year, be under 18 as of Dec. 31, 2021 and be claimed on the filer's tax return to be eligible.
Tax filers may claim children who are their own, adopted, stepchildren, half-siblings, foster children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews, or certain other relatives.
This year United Way of South Texas provided over 2,100 families in Hidalgo and Starr counties with free tax preparation services this tax season. Those families have received about $4.3 million in tax returns.
Lilly Lopez-Killelea, president of the United Way of South Texas urged the public to file their taxes and said this year's count is below the average number of 4,000.
As of April 28 Coastal Bend Volunteer Income Tax Assistance filed almost 1,500 tax returns using its sites which brought more than $2.2 million to the community, according to Gonzalez. VITA locations will remain open until June 5.
Families who are interested in this initiative can get free help preparing and filing their taxes at the list of locations found at irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/.
Families where the parent or caregiver is 50 or older can use the AARP tool to find free tax help near them at secure.aarp.org.