The IRS sent out the third child tax credit payments on Wednesday, Sept. 15. Many parents have been spending the money as soon as they get it on things like rent and uniforms, and already the payments have helped fewer children go hungry.
But the payments haven’t been without their glitches. Parents can get up to $300 per month per kids under age 6 and $250 for kids ages 6-18, with payments decreasing for single filers who make over $75,000 or those married filing jointly that have an income of more than $150,000. Some eligible families, though, have missed out on the payments, while others have received the wrong amount or were sent paper checks last month despite being enrolled in direct deposit.
Now, some caregivers who got the payments on time in July and August are saying they didn't receive it this time around, and they don't know why.
"I set up bills and orchestrated my budget around expecting that money," Tacey Harp, a mother of two in Banks, Oregon, told CBS. She and at least a dozen other families told the outlet they didn’t get the September payment as expected.
Another parent posted on Facebook that though the IRS says she’s eligible and enrolled in the payments, she still hasn’t received her September check. “I'm so confused about what's going on with the IRS,” the woman posted, according to WFMY, a CBS affiliate in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Last month the IRS warned parents in advance that some people who got the payment via direct deposit in July would be receiving paper checks instead in August because of a glitch. That issue was supposed to be fixed in time for September, and this month the IRS hasn't yet commented on the topic.
Here’s what to do if you haven’t received the latest child tax credit payment yet or you think you got the wrong amount:
Check the IRS Child Tax Credit Update Portal
The IRS's online portal has up-to-date information about your enrollment status. You’ll be able to check whether you’ve been confirmed eligible for the program, and you can also see the status of each payment sent so far.
If you’re enrolled in direct deposit and five days have passed since the payment should have arrived, you can fill out a form asking for the payment to be traced. The same payment tracing form will work if you receive paper checks but haven’t gotten yours four weeks after the payment was listed as delivered.
Make sure you didn’t opt out
If you opted out of the payments – which some families have chosen to do because they usually owe money at tax season or share joint custody – you won’t get a check. Parents can opt out at any time, meaning you could have gotten the July and August payments and opted out afterwards. The opt-out deadline for the September checks was Aug. 30.
If you did opt out, you can either re-enroll or wait until you receive your 2021 tax refund, when the remaining payments will be issued as a lump sum.
Check that your calculation is correct
There are many reasons you could have gotten a check for a different amount than you expected. If you had a baby in 2021, the IRS may not have incorporated that child into your payments yet since you didn’t claim them on your most recent tax return. You can, however, update your number of dependents to make sure you get the additional money.
It's possible one of your children may have aged out of the child tax credit – they have to be under 18 on Dec. 31, 2021 in order to qualify. The money could also have been garnished by a debt collector, which unfortunately is legal in some states.
If you think there's a genuine mistake and you are owed extra child tax credit money, you may be able to fix it in the portal or by contacting the IRS by calling 800-829-1040. Just be aware the wait times are around half an hour.
Democrats in Congress have proposed extending the child tax credit payment program through 2025. It’s unclear whether the funding will be approved; if it does, though, you’ll want to keep tabs on your payments and make sure they’re arriving on time and for the right amount.