San Francisco—Code for America, the leading nonprofit tech organization that works with community leaders and governments to deliver equitable, accessible digital tools and services, today launched a new portal that will give more families in America access to the Child Tax Credit and other tax benefits. The portal—located at GetCTC.org and released in collaboration with the White House and US Department of the Treasury—is free to use, accessible on desktops and mobile devices, and available in both English and Spanish.
Recognizing that even the best technology will not reach everyone, Code for America is also working with trusted community-based organizations that work in multiple languages and serve as navigators to help more non-filers in underserved communities successfully access the portal and receive the tax benefits they are due. Code for America is providing training materials and other resources to these community-based organizations.
“The Child Tax Credit is one of the most meaningful expansions of the social safety net in a generation with the potential to cut child poverty in half,” said David Newville, Senior Program Director for Tax Benefits, Code for America. “In just two months, it’s already clear that the CTC is having a meaningful impact for working families in America. Now, we want to do all we can to ensure every family has access to the CTC. That’s why we’re launching the new GetCTC Portal today in collaborating with the White House and US Department of the Treasury.”
“At Code for America, we embrace an iterative technology development process that means that the portal will continue to be refined in the days and weeks following launch to make it even easier to use. And we’re working with trusted community partners to serve as navigators to help ensure that more non-filers sign up. This is a historic moment, and we are proud to do our part as we work to make sure that every eligible family in our nation gets the flexible cash that belongs to them.”
Code for America’s new portal will enhance the federal government’s existing outreach efforts by creating a new, bilingual and mobile-friendly way for those eligible to sign up. GetCTC will make it easy for families with low or no incomes to get the flexible cash they deserve—including the Advance Child Tax Credit and any of the three rounds of stimulus payments they may have missed out on.
GetCTC asks questions in straightforward, user-friendly language; guides clients through simple questions to determine eligibility; automatically calculates the Recovery Rebate Credit, and has chat support available if people get stuck.
New census data released earlier this month confirms the impact of the CTC: the percentage of families in America with kids who report not having enough to eat was slashed from 11% to 8% after the first CTC tax credit payments were distributed. This progress is significant and shows the need to extend the CTC.
Eligible families can fill out and e-file a simple form at GetCTC.org and could receive payments within weeks of submission.
Simple Questions/Iterative Design
Rather than submitting a full tax return, GetCTC files what the IRS calls a “simplified return,” containing just the information needed to issue Child Tax Credit and stimulus payments. This means that GetCTC asks for no more information than is required to make these payments accurately.
Moreover, GetCTC asks for this limited set of information in a user-friendly, interview-style format. The tool prompts people to answer one simple question at a time and walks them through the criteria that apply to them, rather than referring them to hard-to-understand tax instructions.Code for America designs products using the principles of iterative design. Even after launch, Code for America will keep testing, learning, and improving the portal over the course of the next weeks and months. This process includes clarifying questions and pages that clients find confusing and streamlining the flow of the application to make it quicker, more intuitive, and easier to use.
About Code for America
Established in 2009, Code for America is a technology nonprofit that believes that government can work for the people, by the people, in the digital age. We use insights and ideas from real people to guide us to real solutions that break down barriers to meet community needs and improve government in meaningful ways.
Code for America’s recent projects include:
- GetYourRefund.org—Launched in 2019, GetYourRefund.org is a non-profit service built by Code for America in partnership with IRS-certified Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites nationally to help people access the Earned Income Tax Credit and other tax benefits for which they are eligible. Unlike GetCTC, GetYourRefund does not file a return directly with the IRS; instead, it connects families with VITA sites who do the actual filing.
- GetCalFresh—This groundbreaking portal makes it easier for families in California to sign up for federal food assistance benefits (SNAP) in as little as 10 minutes.
- ClearMyRecord—The Clear My Record team works with state governments and communities to fundamentally transform the process of record clearance. We’re working to help solve this issue by partnering with courts, criminal history repositories, executive branch agencies in state governments, policymakers, and advocacy groups to design and implement record clearance policies. Our goal is to make automatic record clearance—where all eligible criminal records are cleared automatically and without burden—the standard across the country.