Code for America expands free GetCTC site to Puerto Rico
Code for America — a nonprofit tech organization that works with community leaders and governments to deliver equitable, accessible digital tools and services — has extended its free, mobile-friendly GetCTC sign-up website to Puerto Rico residents, making it easier for families to access the Child Tax Credit.
The expanded website, which is available in Spanish and English, was launched in collaboration with the White House and the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Community partners, including the Hispanic Federation, UnidosUS, the Instituto del Desarrollo de la Juventud, and Espacios Abiertos are leading local outreach efforts in communities across Puerto Rico to help residents access the Child Tax Credit.
Since September 2021, Code for America’s GetCTC website has helped nearly 135,000 families access nearly $500 million in tax benefits for which they are eligible. This is the first year that Puerto Rico residents are eligible to receive the full tax benefit.
Puerto Rico residents, who were not eligible for advance monthly payments in 2021, will receive full payments in 2022: $3,600 for children ages 5 and younger at the end of 2021; and $3,000 for children ages 6 through 17 at the end of 2021.
“Today’s GetCTC portal expansion removes enormous barriers that have blocked people in Puerto Rico from accessing the Child Tax Credit,” said David Newville, Code for America’s senior program director for Tax Benefits.
“Now, this will make it far easier for potentially hundreds of thousands of people living in Puerto Rico to sign up for the Child Tax Credit through an easy-to-use digital tool that ensures families are getting the flexible cash that they are due,” he said.
“With [more than] 100,000 low-income families claiming nearly $400 million in benefits last year through GetCTC, we know that simplified filing works,” said Newville.
Meanwhile, Carmen I. Rodríguez, advocacy director for the Instituto del Desarrollo de la Juventud, said, “Tax-filing can be an intimidating and expensive process for many people. This type of tool allows families to apply for this benefit on their own, so they don’t miss out.”
“The goal is that all eligible families receive this money, to alleviate the ever-increasing costs associated with raising a child,” she said.
The GetCTC website is the first online application made available to Puerto Rico residents following a recent update to the filing process.
“Opening access to the GetCTC website for Puerto Rico residents brings us one step closer to equity in the Child Tax Credit,” said Charlotte Gossett-Navarro, chief director of the Hispanic Federation Puerto Rico.
“We have been working closely with local nonprofit organizations throughout this tax season to help ensure no family is left out of the 2021 Child Tax Credit expansion, but there are barriers that make it difficult to assist communities with the traditional federal tax filing process,” she said.
“This new tool will make it much simpler for eligible families who have not yet filed to do so for free and with the support of trusted community organizations. Thousands of families have already received their benefit, and I hope with GetCTC we can soon reach all families in Puerto Rico,” said Gossett-Navarro.
In May, the Internal Revenue Service issued guidance allowing most Puerto Rico residents with children to file a simplified tax return in order to claim the Child Tax Credit if they did not have a federal filing requirement in 2021.
“At a time when the economic crisis is worsening as a result of inflation, it is imperative that families living in Puerto Rico be able to access all the benefits available to improve their economic security,” said Cecille Blondet, executive director of Espacios Abiertos.
“The access of the GetCTC website to Puerto Rico will facilitate the use of technology at the service of the people in that direction,” Blondet said.
Up to this point, eligible residents had to file using Form 1040-PR, a burdensome process that created a huge barrier to access. Many applicants had to visit the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) services or pay for tax preparation software that was poorly aligned to their needs.
By using the GetCTC portal, Puerto Rico residents will be able file a simplified tax return containing just the information needed to issue the Child Tax Credit with a user-friendly, interview-style format that prompts clients to answer one question at time and guides them through the criteria that apply. A demo of how to use the tool is available in Spanish and English.
In May, Code for America relaunched the GetCTC website for the second year in a row to give more families access to the Child Tax Credit and other tax benefits. Last year, more than 115,000 families used the tool to successfully claim tax benefits with most clients typically finishing in 10-15 minutes.