Starting Thursday, nearly $15 billion will start going to families of 60 million eligible children as part of the increased Child Tax Credit program that was passed earlier this year. However, payment may not come in by Thursday night, even for parents with IRS-linked bank accounts expecting a direct deposit.
The IRS is a collection agency, not a disbursement vehicle and they’ve been on a tight timeline to launch these monthly payments. During the lockdown, the agency dealt with a number of logistical delays in stimulus payments as they attempted to fire off millions of checks, and similar snags could take place this time around.
President Joe Biden increased the size of the tax credit as part of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, as well as making it fully available to families without any tax obligations. The benefit is set to expire after a year, but Biden is pushing for it to be extended through 2025 and ultimately made permanent.
“For a married couple earning a combined $60,000 per year and two children under six, their Child Tax Credit will equal $7,200, and this year’s expansion means an additional $3,200 per year in tax relief,” the IRS said in a news release.
But if you are one of 36 million American families expecting a new cash infusion, all you care about is your check. So how will you know if your payment is late or just missing?
Where is my payment?
The IRS wants you to first check the IRS child tax credit portal to verify eligibility and payment issue method. If it appears your payment should have hit your account but your bank says it still hasn’t received the funds, you can file a trace. A trace is an IRS inquiry into what happened with your funds, and it can be requested by mailing or faxing IRS form 3911 back to the agency.
The IRS has previously said a trace takes about six weeks to return a result. The agency says it will not be able to initiate a trace unless direct deposit recipients have waited at least five days from the deposit date. Check recipients are asked to wait four weeks from the payment date before filing.
How do I contact the IRS if I have an issue?
If you need assistance from the IRS, you can call the customer service number for individuals: 800-829-1040. The phone line is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time.
How much will I receive? What if it’s the wrong amount?
The credit is $3,600 annually for children under age 6 and $3,000 for children ages 6 to 17. But six months of payments will be advanced on a monthly basis through the end of the year. This means eligible families will receive $300 monthly for each child under 6 and $250 per child older than that.
This is a change from last year when the credit totaled $2,000 per child. Families who did not owe the government income taxes were also unable to claim the credit, a restriction that Biden and Congress lifted.
If you think you received the wrong amount, visit the IRS Child Tax Credit payment site to check your status.
The payments begin to phase out at incomes of $75,000 for individuals, $112,500 for heads of household and $150,000 for married couples. Higher-income families with incomes of $200,000 for individuals and $400,000 for married couples can still receive the previous $2,000 credit.
Why are the payments going out on a monthly basis?
Advocates say the monthly payments can help smooth out an impoverished family’s income, making it easier for them to budget and less dependent on high-interest lenders.
Can I opt-out of monthly payments?
Yes. Some people are used to the child tax credit enabling them to get a refund on their taxes. They might not want the monthly advance and about 1 million people have opted out, according to administration officials. To unenroll, visit the IRS website.