Stimulus Update: 10% of Eligible Families Have Not Received a Payment. What to Do if You're One of Them

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No Child Tax Credit payments yet? Here's what you need to do.


Key points

  • Many American families eligible for advanced Child Tax Credit payments have not received a cent.
  • Filing taxes early next year is the best way to collect on eligible Child Tax Credit money.

A central theme in President Joe Biden's legislative agenda has been to lift as many children as possible out of poverty. In March, it was the American Rescue Plan, and today, he's hoping to raise entire families out of poverty with his Build Back Better legislation.

It could take months or years to see the fruit of Biden's $1.75 trillion Build Back Better bill, but we're already seeing signs of how well last spring's American Rescue Plan is -- and is not -- working for children from low-income families.

Does this describe you?

Are you a parent with a household income of less than $25,000? If the answer is yes, but you have not received an advance Child Tax Credit payment yet, you're not alone. Earlier this month, a study published by the Urban Institute found that less than half of all families earning under $25,000 had received the most recent Child Tax Credit. In fact, only 47% of parents in your shoes did receive payment.

Are you of Hispanic or Latino heritage? According to the same report, there's only a 54% chance that you've received the Child Tax Credit on behalf of your child or children.

What's surprising about this is that overall, the program has been successful. According to the IRS, more than 60 million children nationwide have received monthly payments via their parent's bank accounts, and that number represents a large percentage of eligible families.

Regarding their report, Urban Institute writes: "Though advance CTC payments are helping households with children cover basic expenses and improve their financial circumstances, the payments are not reaching many households likely eligible for them, and people with the lowest incomes report the lowest rates of receipt."

Possible reasons

If you have missed out on payments, there's probably a very good reason. Here are two of the most common:

The IRS doesn't realize you have children

If your annual income is low enough that you're not required to file taxes each year, the IRS may not realize you have children at home and are due a payment. Earlier this year, the IRS set up an online portal hoping that non-filers would register, but not everyone felt comfortable doing so. If that describes you, it's okay. We'll cover how you can remedy the situation in just a moment.

There's a language barrier

If English is not your first language and you don't have a support system to help you navigate confusing subjects in English, it's possible that you gave up on the idea of receiving the Child Tax Credit. After all, none of the early outreach efforts about the credit were launched in Spanish, which Urban Institute points to as a possible reason for low Hispanic and Latino participation. For those who speak only English, it would be like trying to understand directions in Maltese, Basque, or Cornish. It sometimes feels easier to give up than to continue feeling frustrated.

We've passed the deadline. Now what?

Nov. 15 was the deadline to sign your kids up for the Child Tax Credit on the IRS's website. You are still eligible for the funds, though, so don't miss out.

File your taxes for free through the IRS free file site as soon as you can in 2022. Even if you're not normally required to file a tax return, take this opportunity to collect money for your kids. Here's what filing taxes could do for you:

  • Give you a total of $3,600 for each child under the age of 6
  • Provide a total of $3,000 for each child between the ages of 6 and 17

Let's say you have three children, ages 3, 4, and 9. That would mean a tax refund of at least $10,200 ($3,600 for the 3-year-old, $3,600 for the 4-year-old, and $3,000 for the 9-year-old).

Yes, the entire process has been a bit confusing, but there is no reason to miss out on a Child Tax Credit refund that could help you and your family pay down bills or simply start 2022 on a better note.

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