Stimulus Update: If Your Child Tax Credit Payment Was Less This Month, This Could Be Why

by Angelica Leicht | Published on Sept. 29, 2021

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There have been numerous reports of incorrect or lower-than-expected payments for the most recent Child Tax Credit. If you received less money than usual, this could be why.

When the IRS rolled out the September Child Tax Credit payments to bank accounts and mailboxes across the country, the process was anything but seamless. A technical glitch on the part of the IRS caused about 2% of the tax credit checks not to be issued, causing concern and frustration for the families who were expecting the money to arrive.

While perhaps a minor inconvenience for most households, this was hardly the first time that a system glitch has caused delays or missing checks for families who should have otherwise received the money. Over the last few months, there have been numerous reports of late or missing Child Tax Credit payments, and some of the nation's most vulnerable households have been affected by these issues.

The good news is that the most recent delays have already been addressed. Over the weekend, the IRS said that the late payments were on the way to the households who were affected by the delays. So, if you haven't already received your late September payment, the money should be available to you soon. But while that issue has been resolved, there are also reports of some households receiving less money than they should have for their most recent payments. If you were one of the people who received a smaller-than-expected check this month, there are a few reasons why this may have happened.

Why some September Child Tax Credit checks were for less money than expected

Was your tax credit check for less money than you expected this month? If so, there could be a few simple explanations for it.

According to a recent news release from the IRS, some families received a different amount than they expected for September due to their 2020 tax returns having recently been processed by the agency. That's because while parents can receive up to $250 to $300 per month per child, depending on the age and their income, the total amount you receive lessens and then phases out completely for higher earners.

If your tax return was recently processed and your income increased substantially from 2019 to 2020, that could be why you received less than the full amount for your September payment.

Similar issues can occur if there were changes or corrections made on your 2020 tax return to the number of dependents in your household. If a dependent listed on your 2019 tax return no longer lived with you in 2020, the IRS may have adjusted your Child Tax Credit eligibility to reflect the changes.

Another possible explanation for a payment that was less than expected could be that only one spouse changed their address or bank account in the IRS portal. These tools allow parents to update their personal information as necessary, but in households with married filing jointly taxpayers, both parents have to update their information in the system to receive the payments to the new bank account or address.

If they don't, it can lead to the advance payments being split in half and issued separately to both parties. In these cases, the spouse who did not update their information may have had their half of the Child Tax Credit money issued to an old address or sent to an old bank account.

If you suspect that may be what caused an incorrect amount to be issued for your household, there's no need to panic. Per the IRS, the full payment amount will still be distributed in these cases. However, you may want to update your information in the portal as soon as possible to make sure the correct information is on file -- and there's an easy way to do that.

How to track your payment or update the information on file with the IRS

If you want to update the information you have on file with the IRS, you can use the IRS Child Tax Credit Update Portal to make minor tweaks. You can also use this tool to track your payments, get information about your payment, or find out whether the latest payment has been issued to you yet.

This system will also soon allow you to make more substantial changes to your information, including your filing status and the number of dependents in your home. This will allow new parents with babies born or adopted in 2020 to take advantage of the Child Tax Credit payments, or allow parents take advantage of the increased payments they may now qualify for thanks to a new dependent.

If you don't typically file your taxes each year -- meaning you're a non-filer -- but you need to get your information to the IRS in order to receive the monthly payments, you can use the IRS non-filer portal to do so. You can also use this portal to update any drops in income that would help you qualify for the monthly payments or increase your payments each month.

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