Stimulus Update: From Deadlines to Payment Dates, Here Are the Answers to Your Child Tax Credit Questions

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Not sure what to do about a missing Child Tax Credit payment check or how to opt out? We have the answers to all of your important Child Tax Credit questions.

So far, about 35 million U.S. families have been sent the first monthly check for the enhanced Child Tax Credit. These checks, which are worth up to $300 per qualifying child, were rolled out on July 15 as a way to help low- and middle-income families who are cash-strapped due to the pandemic.

While it's too early to know what people are spending the extra Child Tax Credit money on, what we do know is that these payments will make a big difference to many households across the nation. After all, the July payments alone were worth a significant chunk of money -- about $15 billion total -- and more Child Tax Credit money will be deposited into bank accounts or mailboxes across the country in the near future.

But, while the IRS has been impressively quick to issue the July Child Tax Credits, the process hasn't been totally seamless. Many families are still waiting for their payments to be processed, and others still aren't sure whether they're in line to receive any money at all. If you need to know when the next check is slated to arrive, how to claim the Child Tax Credit money, or how to opt out of the monthly payments, the answers to your questions are below.

1. When will the next Child Tax Credit payment be issued?

If you're waiting for the next round of checks to roll out, you won't have to wait much longer. The next round of Child Tax Credit payments is slated to be sent out next week -- starting on Aug. 13. As with the prior round of payments, parents can expect to receive the cash payments in two ways: either by mail or direct deposit.

As with the stimulus checks and the first round of Child Tax Credit payments, those who are in line for direct deposit payments can expect to see their money first. The actual wait times will depend on your bank and other factors, but in general, you can expect to see the money become available in your account on or within a few days of Aug. 13.

Those who are in line to be issued paper checks will likely be in for a much longer wait. It can take a few extra days or a few extra weeks for paper checks to land in your mailbox, so you'll need to be patient if you're expecting to receive a paper check from the IRS.

2. How can I check whether I qualify for the payments?

If you aren't sure whether or not you qualify for the payments under the income guidelines, you may be wondering whether you can check your eligibility status. The good news is that you can -- and it's pretty easy to do.

If you have already filed taxes for 2019 or 2020, you can use the Child Tax Credit Update Portal to check whether your household qualifies. This tool was recently launched by the IRS and it offers a wide range of information on the enhanced Child Tax Credit payments, including whether or not you qualify.

One thing to note, though: You'll need to sign in with your IRS username or account, so if you've created a login for the IRS system in the past, make sure you have it on hand. If you don't, you can create one on the login page.

3. What should I do if my July Child Tax Credit is missing?

If you haven't received your Child Tax Credit payment for July, the first thing you should do is check the IRS's Child Tax Credit Update Portal. If your payment has been processed, the portal will give you information on whether it was sent out via direct deposit or by mail.

If the information in the portal confirms that your July payment has been processed but it hasn't arrived, there are multiple ways you can handle it.

Option 1: Wait it out

Remember that your payment may still be on the way. Paper checks can take much longer to make their way through the USPS system, so you may want to hang tight for a bit longer to see if it arrives.

Option 2: File a trace

You can also file a trace with the IRS if your July direct deposit payment for either paper check or direct deposit is missing after a certain time period. Here are the exact timelines for when you can initiate a payment trace with the IRS:

  • 5 days after the expected deposit date
  • 4 weeks after the paper check was mailed to your house
  • 6 weeks after the check was mailed to a forwarding address
  • 9 weeks after the check was mailed to a foreign address

Note that you'll need to complete Form 3911 in order to file a trace with the IRS -- and it could take up to six weeks to get the results.

Option 3: Look for these transactions in your account

If your direct deposit is missing, you should also check your bank account to see if the money has been deposited. Per the White House, any transactions related to the Child Tax Credit will appear in your bank account as IRS TREAS 310.

If you see a deposit with that description, you likely have received your July payment. You can also check the description, which should read CHILDCTC. This differs from the deposit description for a tax refund, which appears as TAX REF.

4. How can non-filers register for payments?

The IRS is determining who qualifies for the monthly Child Tax Credit payments by using 2019 or 2020 tax return information. If you're a non-filer, you may not have your up-to-date information on file with the IRS.

As a non-filer, you'll need to use the Child Tax Credit Non-filer Sign-up Tool to register for the upcoming payments that you may qualify for. This tool requires you to enter the following information:

  • Full name
  • Current mailing address
  • Email address
  • Date of birth
  • Valid Social Security numbers (or other taxpayer IDs) for you and your dependents
  • Bank account number, type and routing number, if you have one
  • Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) you received from the IRS earlier this year, if you have one

And, if you want to opt out of the monthly payments for the Child Tax Credit completely, you can use the same IRS update portal to do so.

5. How can I opt out of the monthly Child Tax Credit payments?

If you want to unenroll from the monthly payments to avoid an issue at tax time, you can unenroll via the Child Tax Credit Update Portal. If you opt out of the monthly payments, you will still be eligible to claim the enhanced Child Tax Credit on your 2021 tax return.

Note, though, that if you're married and filed your last tax return jointly with your spouse, you will need to have your spouse unenroll, too. Unenrolling will only remove you from the payments -- not your spouse.

It's too late to unenroll for the August payment, but you can still prevent future payments (September through December) from being sent out if you unenroll before Aug. 30.

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