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Made Too Little To File Taxes? If You Have Children In Your Household You May Be Leaving Money On The Table

The upper left-hand corner of a tax form shown in close-up reads "1040" and "U.S. Individual Income Tax Return."
A copy of a IRS 1040 tax form.
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Los Angeles County officials are working to reach families who are eligible for the IRS's child tax credit but haven't yet filed for the funds.

The credit was first issued last year to households and individuals who filed for 2019 and 2020. It gives families $3,600 per child ages 0-6, and $3,000 per child ages 6-17, up to a certain income.

The payment was split into two parts, with the first half issued in 2021 and the second half issued this year.

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How To Get The Money

Households that filed taxes have already received the credit. But households that have not filed didn't — and those are the families L.A. County hopes to reach.

"If they don't file taxes, typically it's because either they are on a fixed income, they're very low income ... or their income is just too low, so they don't owe any taxes for whatever reason," said Gabriela Gomez, a spokesperson for the county's Department of Public Social Services.

Why It Matters

In some cases, Gomez notes, the payments could be life-altering; a family with two children under age six and one over age six, for example, would receive $10,200, provided they meet the income requirements.

Here's what that looked like in 2019:

Graphs show how the state's young child credit works with federal money to increase aid to families
(Courtesy California Budget & Policy Center)

In order to be eligible, children or dependents must have Social Security numbers.

The IRS has not given a hard deadline for claiming the credit, but have indicated that it will be mid-November.

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"This is money that can make a big difference in people's lives," said Gomez. "It's really sad if all these folks who are who qualify for it, if they're not able to access it to me simply because they don't know."

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