If you're reading this, it's too late... to sign up to get advance monthly payments of the 2021 child tax credit.
GetCTC, the government-approved tool that helped low-income families file simplified tax returns so they could access the expanded credit and stimulus checks, closed Monday night. The sixth child tax credit check is set to go out Dec. 15. And unless Congress steps in, it'll be the final payment in a series that has distributed $77 billion since July.
Fortunately, your family isn't out of luck if you missed Monday's deadline. You can still access the child tax credit, which for the 2021 tax year is worth up to $3,600 per kid under 6 and $3,000 per kid between 6 and 17. You'll just have to wait until 2022.
Eligible families that didn't get advance child tax credit payments can claim the full credit during next year’s tax season. You can sign up for updates from GetCTC by typing in your email address or phone number here.
Families that did get advance child tax credit payments should look out for a letter from the IRS in January confirming the total amount of money received. When you file your 2021 tax return in the spring, you'll need to input that number in order to claim the rest of the credit.
Families that qualified for the advance payments but opted out of monthly checks should also plan to claim their remaining child tax credit funds as a lump sum when they file.
Tax season typically begins in late January (though pandemic delays pushed it to mid-February this year). Next year, the federal tax filing deadline for most individuals will be April 18, 2022.
Remember: Like the stimulus checks, child tax credit payments are not taxable income. Because the credit is fully refundable, the IRS will either reduce your tax bill by the amount you're owed or send it to you as part of a refund after you file, according to TurboTax.
The fastest way to get your tax refund — and any government money you're owed — is to file your taxes electronically and choose direct deposit as your preferred payment method. The IRS says most taxpayers who do this receive their refunds within three weeks.
As far as the future of the child tax credit payments, it's unclear whether Congress will extend the monthly checks, as some Democrats have proposed. But we do know the money has been put to good use. A September study by the Washington University in St. Louis' Social Policy Institute found that families largely used their 2021 child tax credit advances to buy food, pay essential bills and purchase clothing for their kids.