Pennsylvanians Urged to File Taxes to Ensure Receipt of Economic Stimulus Payments, Child Tax Credits

2021 Online Tax Preparation

HARRISBURG, PA — Department of Human Services (DHS) Acting Secretary Meg Snead and Amy Hirsch, Managing Attorney at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia (CLS), is reminding Pennsylvanians to file their taxes ahead of the May 17, 2021, deadline in order to be sure they are receiving economic impact payments – the three stimulus payments issued since March 2020 – and new expanded Child Tax Credits.

“Pennsylvanians are entitled to this stimulus money, but the only way to be sure that you are receiving the stimulus payments and tax credits you qualify for is to file with the IRS,” said Acting Secretary Snead. “Stimulus payments total $3,200 for individuals and more for parents with children. This is a substantial amount of money that can make a difference for people who may be struggling, so don’t let the deadline pass without collecting it.”

Filing federal taxes informs the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) whether someone did not receive the economic payments they are owed. Pennsylvanians who have not yet received these funds are urged to file taxes with the IRS, regardless of whether they do not typically file, if they do not have any earnings or saw a reduction in earnings in the past year or did not previously qualify for stimulus funds. Additionally, with the passage of the American Rescue Plan, Pennsylvanians with children who file could qualify for the expanded Child Tax Credit, which will provide up to $3,600 per child.

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The federal and state filing deadlines have been extended to May 17, 2021. Free tax filing assistance from the IRS can be found here. Those who need assistance filing taxes or receiving stimulus payments can reach out to the Campaign for Working Families at www.cwfphilly.org/stimulus.

“People who do not normally need to file taxes should file this year. Even if you don’t have earnings, or haven’t filed taxes in the past, filing this year is really important. Filing taxes is the only way to claim the stimulus payments if you haven’t received them” said Amy Hirsch, a Managing Attorney at Community Legal Services. “In addition, families with children need to file taxes in order to receive the new expanded child tax credit. The IRS will start paying the child tax credit benefits monthly in July 2021, but families need to file taxes in order to get these benefits. Families can get $250 to $300 a month per child from July 2021 through December 2021, even if they don’t have earnings, but they have to file taxes in order to get those benefits. So even if you don’t normally file taxes, do it this year.”

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The stimulus funds do not count as income or assets in determining eligibility for benefits, and people should not be discouraged from accessing these stimulus payments. Pennsylvanians who receive Medicaid, disability benefits, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or other federal needs-based benefits do not need to worry about the effect on benefits for receiving stimulus funds, as these funds do not count as income or assets in determining eligibility for benefits. Additionally, the stimulus is not meant to be a rent rebate for residents of long-term care facilities, and concerns or complaints about keeping your stimulus payment should be directed to DHS’ Assisted Living Complaint Hotline at 877-401-8835.

“We know the past year has been difficult, so if you need help even with the additional stimulus payments, DHS is here to help you,” said Acting Secretary Snead. “DHS administers these safety-net programs so that people are able to meet essential needs during difficult times. That support will continue to be here to help Pennsylvanians as we work to recover from this public health crisis and period of economic insecurity. If you have fallen on difficult circumstances because of the crises and collective trauma we are all facing, I want to reiterate that help is available – you do not have to go through this alone.”

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Applications for SNAP, Medicaid, TANF, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, and other public assistance programs can be requested and submitted online at www.compass.state.pa.us or over the phone by calling 1-866-550-4355. Those who prefer to submit a paper application can print from the website, pick one up at a County Assistance Office (CAO), or request an application by phone at 1-800-692-7462 and mail it to their local CAO or place it in a CAO’s secure drop box, if available. You do not need to know your own eligibility in order to apply.

More information on the stimulus and tax filing can be found here, and more information on the Child Tax Credits can be found here.

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