Parents and other guardians getting paper checks for their child tax credits can now change where the payments are sent.
The IRS Child Tax Credit Update Portal now allows parents to update their address for receiving future payments. The new feature aims to simplify the process for families who moved or otherwise have an incorrect address listed for the monthly payments. Earlier this year, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan, which temporarily expanded access to the child tax credit and included monthly direct payments to parents worth up to $300 per child.
Parents who want to update their address must submit the changes by Monday, August 30, in order for it to be processed by the next payment date of Sept. 15. Recipients can still make updates after the deadline, but the changes won't take effect for the next payment.
President Biden's administration has estimated most eligible parents would get their child tax payments via direct deposit, and that around 20% would need to be mailed paper checks instead. In order to receive a check in the mail, though, you must have a steady address, and that may present issues for families that are homeless or have had to move a lot.
Many low-income adults don’t have bank accounts. They could not register for direct deposit of pandemic stimulus payments, and received on paper checks and debit cards instead.
Experts worry the so-called "unbanked" — people with no bank accounts — have been experiencing a harder time accessing the child tax credit payments as well. One report showed that 4 million children are missing out on the payments because their parents haven’t filed taxes in two or more years and haven’t registered online.
How to register for child tax credit payments
Speaking of which, it's not too late to sign up to receive the monthly deposits. Parents who didn’t file taxes this year can sign up for child tax credit payments using the IRS's Non-Filer Sign-up tool.
The IRS Child Tax Credit portal is also the place to go to to update bank account information or switch from paper checks to direct deposit. (Note: the portal won’t allow you to split the deposit between two accounts; the entire chunk has to be sent to a single place, although it can be either a checking or a savings account.)
Parents can use the IRS portal to opt out of payments if they’d prefer to receive the full credit as part of their next tax return next year.
More features are coming to the IRS portal as well. The IRS promises parents will soon also be able to make updates to their marital status, note a “significant” shift in their income and “add or remove children,” all using the portal. Parents who had a child in 2021 are most likely still waiting to change their eligibility for the payments.
The first two Child Tax Credit payments were sent in July and August, and four payments remain. See a full schedule — as well as deadlines for opting-out — here.