Treasury taps Code for America for tax credit tool

The administration is getting a head start on releasing a permanent, multilingual, mobile-friendly tool for non-filers to sign up for its expanded CTC program with the help of the civic technology non-profit Code for America.

Treasury Dept headquarters, Washington DC. Shutterstock image ID 684809878 by  Bill Perry

The Treasury will roll out a new, mobile-friendly bilingual signup tool to help enroll eligible applicants in the Child Tax Credit program as it continues to extend the expanded safety net for American families.

Wally Adeyemo, deputy secretary of the Treasury, said in a statement on Friday the agency was working with Congress to create a permanent signup tool allowing America's most vulnerable families -- those who do not earn enough income to file taxes annually -- to access the expanded CTC program.

The administration said it would partner with the civic technology non-profit Code for America to release an initial version of that platform in order to more quickly enroll new families.

"Today 61 million children across America are benefiting from the advance child tax credit, helping families put food on the table and meet the needs of the next generation," Adeyemo said. "We want every eligible family to have access to the advance child tax credit, which is why we will continue our outreach efforts to drive enrollment as our children return to school."

The new tool, called GetCTC, would feature Spanish translation and allow for families to apply to the program on their mobile devices. Many advocates pointed out that these were critical components for any platform seeking to reach underserved communities. The announcement comes just a week after the Office of Management and Budget submitted a study looking at measuring barriers facing historically underserved communities in accessing government services.

Code for America estimated the new platform will help prevent four million families from being left out of the advance child tax credit program.

"The child tax credit is one of the most meaningful expansions of the social safety net in a generation with the potential to reduce child hunger and keep millions of families out of poverty. That's why Code for America is excited to be in the final stages of development of GetCTC," David Newville, senior program director for tax benefits at Code for America, said in a statement. "GetCTC will be a mobile-friendly online portal, available in Spanish too, that will make accessing the CTC simple."

He added: "We will continue to work to make sure that every family in our nation gets the tax benefits that belong to them."

The joint announcement from the White House and Treasury Department said the administration was also committing to a multi-year effort to expand outreach around the CTC program, as well as providing funding "to ensure the effort is fully resourced."

Families enrolled in the program were sent initial payments of up to $250 or $300 per child on July 15, and began receiving their second round of payments this week. The Treasury Department said it had already delivered $15 billion in payments to families with an estimated 61 million children in August.

An additional 1.6 million children were covered in the second round of CTC payments. However, the White House noted that, due to a "technical issue," 15% of families who received their first payment via direct deposit in July would receive their second round of payments via a paper check in the mail.