The second wave of monthly payments for the enhanced child tax credit hit bank accounts this week, but if you haven’t received the money yet, it’s not too late to get in on the cash.
This month’s round of direct payments totals more than $15 billion and will go to families that are raising approximately 61 million kids, according to Treasury Department figures.
That’s money going to households covering 1.6 million more kids than the first round of payments on July 15, officials said Friday.
Here’s the good news if you are still looking on: It’s not late to catch that wave too. The first step is to file your taxes (even though the official tax deadline passed) and for people who have already done that, there’s what’s called a “payment trace.”
First a refresher on the basics: Families who are eligible for this year’s enhanced child tax credit are receiving up advance payments of to $300 per child under age 6 and up to $250 per child between age 6 and 17.
Lawmakers increased the credit to a maximum total of $3,600 for children under age 6 and $3,000 for kids between the age of 6 and 17. Half of the money is being paid in advance in six monthly installments that roll out through the end of the year. Families can spend the money on whatever they wish.
The Internal Revenue Service is distributing the money via direct deposits and paper checks. The payment day is the day the direct deposit cash actually becomes available for use. For those receiving paper checks, it may take one to three business days for paper checks to arrive, Treasury Department and U.S. Postal Service representatives said last month.
The IRS sent out millions of letters earlier this year to families, flagging their potential eligibility.
Due to a technical issue, some recipients (under 15%) who received the CTC as a direct deposit in July will get paper checks this month, the Treasury Department said. The glitch will be fixed in time for the Sept. 15 payment, the department said Friday.
The first advance payments hit millions of accounts on July 15 and new Census Bureau data suggests that money is already making a difference for cash-strapped families.
Some 11% of households with kids reported not having enough food to eat immediately before the July 15 payment, according to an ongoing Census survey. In the period right after the first CTC checks went out, the share of households with kids that said they had problems consistently getting food shrank to 8.4%
For adults in households without children, the rate was essentially unchanged, going from 6.1% to 6.2%, the Census numbers said.
If you are still high and dry while the money flows into other people’s bank accounts, here are the steps to take:
Step one: If you didn’t already do it, file your taxes or sign up for the CTC payments with the IRS’ non-filer portal.
Like stimulus checks, the advance payments are going to household under a certain income limit. Full payments go to individuals making under $75,000, married couples filing jointly who earn $150,000 and people filing as head of household who make $112,500.
The IRS determines whether a household is eligible by looking at its tax return. If the agency only has the 2019 tax return but not the 2020 return, it will work off the income information on that return.
When people sign up using the non-filer tool, what they’re technically doing is completing a 2020 tax return that essentially puts them on the IRS’ radar screen. The portal is only for people making less than $12,400, or $24,800 for a married couple. (The IRS has a free file program for households making less than $72,000.)
The IRS has a separate portal to update bank information and in the coming months, families will also be able to update dependent information, such as a new baby in the family, the agency said.
Step two: If you already filed your taxes, but you are still waiting for your CTC money, you can ask for what’s called a “payment trace.”
To ask the IRS the initiate a trace, people will need to mail or fax Form 3911.
The IRS says it will only start the process if it’s been five days since the deposit date and the bank still hasn’t received the money. For paper checks, you’ll first have to wait four weeks if the payment was mailed to a standard address, six weeks for a forwarding address and nine weeks for a foreign address.
Keep in mind that if your 2021 income exceeds the payment thresholds, you’ll have to pay back the advance payments at tax time (either in the form of a smaller refund or a tax bill). To avoid that situation, taxpayers near the income limits can opt out.
Aug. 30 is the deadline to opt out of payments or update bank information, starting with the Sept. 15 payment.