Child tax credit update 2021: Steps to take if you don’t receive the correct $3,600 payment

AS 35 million American families start receiving child tax credit payments worth up to $300 today – millions of families may be waiting a while for their cash. 

If the aid infusion hasn’t arrived just yet, parents have ways to pinpoint the payment's status and potential time frame. 

Today, the first batch of Child Tax Credit (CTC) payments – worth roughly $15billion – reached about 35 million of the 60 million qualified families today across the country, both the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Treasury Department confirmed. 

“About 86 percent were sent by direct deposit,” the IRS noted.

The schedule for payments start on July 15 and then continue on August 13, September 15, October 15, November 15.

The final check of 2021 will be cut on December 15.

Paper Versus Direct Deposit

Americans who chose direct deposits instead of paper checks are likely going to get their money sooner.

For the some counting on a paper check to arrive in the post, the IRS advised those families to “remember to take into consideration the time it takes to receive it by mail.”

There is also the possibility that the check can get lost in the mail or even stolen.

The payments that started today weremade to those eligible families who filed 2019 or 2020 income tax returns.

For those who missed the tax filing deadline of May 15, there is an option to register for Economic Impact Payments using the IRS Non-Filers tool.

What Is The Child Tax Credit Program?

The Child Tax Credit program, which was passed earlier this year under President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, is setting up families with the ability to collect up to $3,600 for each child through December.

Already, Biden wants the aid to stretch on for years until 2025.

He tweeted: “As I’ve said again and again: The people who really need a tax break in this country are working families.

"That’s why my Build Back Agenda will extend the expanded Child Tax Credit we passed under my American Rescue Plan.”

The second half of the infusion worth up to $1,800 will then land in bank accounts, or as paper checks, once your 2021 tax return has been processed in 2022.

Read our stimulus checks live blog for the latest updates on Covid-19 relief…

While some prefer one payment versus monthly payments, the thinking here is that the drawn out aid helps the IRS with logistics and also balances out a poverty-stricken family’s income; so they can budget better during the hardships brought on by the Covid-19 crisis.

There are some who prefer a lump sum versus a monthly payment. 

For these situations, Americans can opt out or “unenroll” and receive the the one payout next year.

Who's Eligible For Child Tax Credits?

The credits are worth $3,600 for every child under the age of six and $3,000 for every child aged six to 17.

That works out to families receiving $300 monthly for each child under six and $250 per child older than that.

To qualify, individuals must earn less than $75,000, for heads of households it’s $112,500 and married couples, it’s $150,000.

But even families with incomes topping $200,000 for individuals and $400,000 for married couples are able to collect the previous installment of $2,000, according to WCBD.

Meanwhile, those claiming kids between the ages of 18 and 24 who are enrolled as full-time college students can seek out $500 credits for each.

The Biden administration and Congress also did away with a restriction that had turned away families who didn’t owe income taxes from being able to claim the credit. 

Where Is My Money?

The IRS is urging eligible families to verify their tax return statuses and payment method preferences on their site:

They also set up a free online portal to check the status of payments.

Through their customized portal, you can see if you're enrolled to get advance payments and check your payment history too.

They also encourage families who want to receive the child tax credit in full next year instead of receiving monthly checks to create an account.

The tool allows households to update their details so the IRS can send the correct amount of cash.

And if the funds are recorded as being transferred but the bank has no record, the IRS allows users to file a trace. 

The trace will have the IRS track down what happened with your funds.

The downside is the trace can take around six weeks to render an answer. 

The agency warns that families need to wait at least five days from the direct deposit date and four weeks for paper check recipients before reaching out to the IRS to initiate a trace. 

To start a payment trace, mail or fax a completed Form 3911, Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund to the IRS.

Calling The IRS

The IRS has their phone lines open from 7am to 7pm. The customer service number is: 800-829-1040. If you suspect you were paid the wrong amount, the IRS set up its own Child Tax Credit payment site to verify the potential error.

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