Tax FAQs

I need to file

I didn’t file taxes last year, why should I file this year?

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Even if you haven’t filed taxes in a while, you can still benefit from filing your 2021 tax return in 2022. If you have children under age 18 in your home, you may be eligible for up to $3,600 per child from the new Child Tax Credit.

If I was out of work in 2021, why should I file my taxes?

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You should file for your 2021 tax return no matter what. The newly expanded Child Tax Credit provides up to $3,600 per child to parents, guardians and caregivers of dependent children, even if you didn’t earn income. Even people who were out of work in 2021 can still receive a hefty refund. But, you have to file your taxes to claim your credits.

Why should I file taxes when I don’t make enough money to bother?

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The federal government is increasingly using tax records to distribute benefits. When you file your taxes, you will automatically receive the new expanded Child Tax Credit, if you are eligible. If you don’t file your taxes, you may have to take extra steps to receive the money you are entitled to, or you may miss out entirely.

I’m concerned that I’m going to owe and can’t afford to pay my taxes, so isn’t it better to not file taxes?

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You won’t know whether, and how much, you owe until you actually file. It’s possible you might get a pleasant surprise and have a refund instead!

If you do owe, it’s better to file on time and set up a payment plan with the IRS rather than file late or not at all. Back taxes will pile up, and the longer you have gone without filing, the more you may owe in penalties and fees. You may be eligible for the new Child Tax Credit, which could offset up to $3,600 of back taxes owed.

I haven’t filed taxes in a long time, but I did register for the stimulus payments. What should I know?

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You may have been receiving automatic Child Tax Credit monthly payments in 2021, but you MUST file your 2021 taxes in early 2022 to receive the second half of your Child Tax Credit. You won’t receive it automatically. There may be other tax credits you qualify for, too, like the Earned Income Tax Credit. The only way to make sure that you receive all available credits is to file your taxes.

I’ve never filed my taxes before. I don’t make enough money (or my income is not taxed). Am I eligible for the Child Tax Credit?

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You qualify for the Child Tax Credit, if you meet these three criteria:
• You are a parent, guardian or caregiver with dependent children up to age 17.
• Your child has a Social Security Number. You can file with an ITIN (Individual Tax Identification Number), but your child must have a Social Security Number.
• You fall below the following income limits to receive the full benefit.

If you are single and meet the requirements for filing taxes as a head of household, your income must be under $112,500. If you are single and do not meet the requirements for filing as head of household, your income must be under $75,000. If you have a spouse and choose to file your taxes jointly, your combined income must be under $150,000. If your household income is above those thresholds, you will receive slightly smaller payments, depending on income.

You have to file taxes to claim the credit. You can file for free online or make an in-person or no-contact appointment to get assistance. You will need:
• Documentation on your income, such as a W2, 1099, Social Security statement, etc.
• Social Security Number and birthdates of minor children
• Driver’s license or picture ID
If you are filing online, you just need to be able to include this information on the form. If you schedule an appointment for help, you will need to bring the documents with you to your meeting.

I’ve filed

I filed my 2021 taxes but haven’t received my payment yet. What can I do?

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If you don’t have a bank account on file with the IRS, your payment will be sent via paper mail and may take several weeks to arrive. Direct deposit is the fastest way to get payments. Check your tax return to see whether you gave the IRS your bank account information and, if so, that it is the correct bank account

How do I set up a bank account so I can receive direct deposits (instead of having a paper check mailed to me)?

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BankOn offers safe, low cost banking options. If you want local or one-on-one assistance, the City of Detroit’s Financial Empowerment Center can assist you in setting up a bank account.

I filed my 2020 taxes last year, but I haven’t filed 2021 taxes yet. What should I know?

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If you were receiving monthly Child Tax Credit payments in 2021, you MUST file your 2021 taxes in early 2022 to receive the second half of your Child Tax Credit. You won’t receive it automatically. In addition to the Child Tax Credit, you may be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit or special Michigan tax credits like the Home Heating Credit and the Homestead Property Tax Credit. The only way to make sure that you receive all available credits is to file a full tax return for 2021.

Questions regarding children

I had a child born in 2021. Can I claim the Child Tax Credit for the new child?

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Yes! You are eligible for the Child Tax Credit for the new child. To claim your credit, you must file a 2021 tax return in early 2022.

Someone else claimed my children on their 2020 taxes, or I expect someone else to claim my children on their 2021 taxes. What should I know?

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Final eligibility for the Child Tax Credit is based on 2021 tax returns, which are filed in early 2022.

If someone else claimed your child(ren) on their 2020 taxes and you expect that person to claim your child(ren) again on 2021 taxes (filed in spring 2022):
• If the child(ren) do not live with you at least six months out of the year, you are likely not eligible to receive the Child Tax Credit.
• If the child(ren) live with you more than six months out of the year but someone else usually claims them on their taxes, consult a tax professional for advice. Make a free appointment with one of our tax prep partners to get help.

If someone else claimed your child(ren) on their 2020 taxes but you expect to claim your child(ren) on your 2021 taxes (filed in spring 2022):
• If you claim the child(ren) on your 2021 tax return, and no one else does, you will be eligible to receive the full Child Tax Credit when you file your 2021 taxes in spring 2022. Only one person or family can claim a particular child at the same time.
• If you and someone else both claim your child(ren) in the same year, your refund may be delayed. Consult a tax professional for advice. Make a free appointment with one of our tax prep partners to get help.

If you claimed your child(ren) on your 2020 taxes but you expect someone else to claim your child(ren) on their 2021 taxes (filed in spring 2022):
• This situation is common among separated parents with joint custody who claim the children in alternating years. If you received advance payments based on the children claimed on your 2020 taxes but do not claim the same children on your 2021 taxes filed in spring 2022, you may have to repay the advance payments.

Have questions or need advice? Make a free appointment with one of our tax prep partners to get help.

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