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TaxWatch: The IRS wants you to get your stimulus check and child tax credit cash if you haven’t claimed it — here’s what to look for

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The Internal Revenue Service is mailing letters to households that could potentially get money from boosted child tax credit payments and the third stimulus check — if only they filed a tax return.

The tax agency said it is sending out more than 9 million letters to get the word out.The letters are going to households that typically haven’t filed tax returns because they are not earning enough income to necessitate filing a tax return.

Filing a federal tax return is the way to access the $1,400 third stimulus check, as well as the beefed up child tax credit and also the Earned Income Tax Credit that became more generous for childless workers.

Last year, the child tax credit payout jumped from $2,000 to $3,600 for children under age 6 and $3,000 for children between ages 6 and 17. The credit is reverting to its earlier sum this year, but some advocates hope there will be a second round soon for the boosted payouts.

An individual’s threshold to turn in a 2021 federal return is at least $12,550 income and $25,100 for married couples.

In a time of four-decade high inflation rates, any extra cash unlocked by a 2021 tax return could be a very welcome windfall.

“We don’t want people to overlook these tax credits, and the letters will remind people of their potential eligibility and steps they can take,” IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said in a statement about the letter being sent in English and Spanish. The mailing effort is similar to letters the agency sent out in fall 2020 urging approximately 9 million households to file a tax return and get the first stimulus check.

Monday, October 17, is the deadline to turn in tax returns after getting an extension. But if taxpayers don’t owe any taxes, they don’t face penalties for submitting a late return — except they have three years from the original filing deadline to submit a return.

Electronically-filed returns with a direct deposit refund are the quickest way to get the money, the IRS notes.

There’s a couple ways to send in returns. One avenue is through the IRS free file program, which is now open through Nov. 17. Households making less than $12,500 and married couples making under $25,000 can turn in a simplified tax return via a website the federal government built for the child tax credit payments. Would-be tax filers do not need to have children to use the form, the IRS said. More information can be found here.

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