If you’re among the 60 million Americans expecting child tax credit payments from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), you might already know that second checks should be hitting your bank account any day now.
But if you weren’t sure, here’s a quick primer on the credits, timelines, and how to track your payments. Read on!
Remind me, what are these credits again?
They’re given to eligible parents to help with the costs of dependent children, such as daycare and back-to-school gear. This year’s program was expanded by the American Rescue Plan in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and parents could claim up to $3,600 per child, with half of that doled out in six monthly checks from July through December.
Got it. So when am I getting my payments?
The first check should already have arrived in July. Payments are made on the 15th of each month—but in August, that falls on a Sunday, so the IRS will instead send the payment on Friday, August 13.
Ok, but what if I didn’t get my first check yet?
If you claimed the credit but didn’t receive the first check, that could be for a couple reasons.
- The IRS may not have your updated address or bank account information. If that’s the case, file another IRS form or use the website to correct that. Or if your address is current and you’re waiting for a paper check in the mail, you can blame postal service delays.
- You filed an amended tax return, which got stuck in the IRS’s vast backlog. Unfortunately, not much you can do here.
- You’re part of a family in which one parent is a U.S. citizen and the other is an immigrant with an ITIN number. According to the IRS, it made a mistake by failing to send checks to these families, and payments should start this month.
- You opted to forego the monthly payments, in order to claim a larger tax refund next spring.
How do I track my second check?
According to the IRS, you can visit the Child Tax Credit Update Portal, which should show which payments are pending (this involves registering for an IRS username or ID.me account, which requires a photo ID).
Or if you see your payment has been sent but you haven’t received it, and it’s been at least five days since the direct deposit was ordered or four weeks since the paper check was mailed, you can request an IRS payment trace. This involves printing, completing, and mailing Form 3911, and it could take up to 60 days for the IRS to reply.
This is all too much. Is it too late to forego monthly payments?
Nope! You can still opt out for the months of September and beyond (although it’s too late for August). The next deadline is August 30, with later deadlines in October and November. Use the Child Tax Credit Update Portal to do so. As an added bonus, for households undergoing substantial income bumps that could make you ineligible for the credit, this saves you from having to pay back any overpayments next spring.