Stimulus Update: Why You May Get 2 Child Tax Credit Payments in February

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No payment in January? That may mean a double payment in February.

Key points

  • It is highly unlikely there will be a Child Tax Credit payment in January.
  • You may be able to plan for a double payment in February.

A congressional year that began with an attack on democracy ended with a whimper on Saturday. Unable to come to an agreement of any sort, lawmakers pushed back a vote on President Joe Biden's Build Back Better Plan until January. So, what does that mean for the advanced Child Tax Credit?

The Child Tax Credit was initially scheduled to end this month, with the mid-December payment being the last. But Biden's Build Back Better bill would have extended the monthly child tax payments through next year. Because lawmakers were unable to pass infrastructure legislation, the Child Tax Credit is now up in the air, and it's a near-certainty that no January payments will hit bank accounts.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the White House would look into doubling up payments in February. That is, if Congress can pull it together long enough to pass Build Back Better and if the version they pass includes an extended Child Tax Credit.

According to Psaki, "If we get it done in January, we'd talk to Treasury officials and others about doing double payments in February as an option. The president wants to see this move forward. It's a priority for him as soon as Congress returns."

Monthly Child Tax Credit payments amount to $300 per child under the age of 6 and $250 for children aged 6 to 17. That comes to $3,600 for each child under 6 and $3,000 for older children.

If your family folded Child Tax Credit funds into your monthly budget and January is looking like it might be financially tight, start planning now. That may mean cutting back on unnecessary expenses and postponing planned discretionary spending until February. Then, keep an eye on what lawmakers in Washington are doing once they return from the holiday break.

A Senate divided

It's safe to assume that some in Congress will continue to throw obstacles in the legislation's path, making it more difficult for the president to pass his infrastructure plan. In addition to Republicans who have vowed to obstruct progress, two Democrats -- Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona -- have publicly railed against the infrastructure plan and accompanying Child Tax Credit.

Even as lawmakers slowly backed out the door toward a vacation, they continued to argue over every point on the president's plans, including the Child Tax Credit. But as much as some of them wish to thwart the president's plan, it may be a tough sell to strip the Child Tax Credit from the American people after ample evidence of how much good it has accomplished.

Read more: The 2022 Child Tax Credit Battle Rages On, Despite New Study Showing the Benefits for Kids and Families

What can you do?

Don't forget, you have a voice. If you have concerns about losing the Child Tax Credit, you can find contact information for your lawmakers here. Reach out to let them know how you feel about the Build Back Better Plan in general, and specifically, the Child Tax Credit.

Despite how contentious politics in Washington are today, it may help to remember that none of this is new or original. For example, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were famously abusive to one another, only to become dear friends toward the end of their lives. In 1856, a pro-slavery senator used a cane to attack Senator Charles Sumner, abolitionist from Massachusetts, smack-dab in the middle of the Senate chamber. And two years later, the House of Representatives erupted into a literal fistfight over the subject of slavery.

The point is this: Politicians are going to do their thing. We will survive. Your job today is to be flexible. Missing a Child Tax Credit payment is made easier by expecting it to happen. If lawmakers manage to get it together after the holiday recess and pass Build Back Better with the tax credit in place, you'll have twice as large an advanced Child Tax Credit to work with in February.

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