The new, expanded, and more generous child tax credit passed as part of Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan is better than the old one in a lot of ways—it’s more generous and fully refundable, for instance. But it’s the advance monthly payments paid in cash, the third of which makes its way into mailboxes and bank accounts today, that are giving working parents the regular cash infusions they can really use. And now, the third payment out of six monthly payments (before a lump sum of cash gets paid out to parents at the tax-filing time) is making its way to parents’ bank accounts across the country.
Here’s what you need to know about the latest payment, including how to make sure you receive it, especially if you don’t file taxes. Because if you’re not taking advantage of the payments, you aren’t just leaving money on the table — you’re denying yourself a nice little pick me up in the middle of every month.
Individual filers with an adjusted gross income of up to $75,000 are eligible for the full child tax credit. The income limit for a head of household is $112,500. For joint filers, it’s $150,000. The credit decreases by $50 for every $1,000 in income beyond those limits no matter the filing status.
These requirements mean that a lot of people who didn’t file a tax return because they don’t make enough to pay income tax are eligible for the credit. But without filing a tax return, there’s no way for the IRS to know if someone is eligible for the credit. That’s why there’s a website to check your eligibility and help you sign up for the credit.
After a rocky start, the agency collaborated with a non-profit to create a new tool for non-filers that allows them to essentially file a simplified return and confirm their eligibility for the child tax credit. It’s located at GetCTC.org. Go there now if you haven’t, yet, to sign up for your next round of payments, coming out on October 15.
How much will the payment be worth?
The full monthly payment for kids five and younger is $300. For kids six to 17, it’s $250. That adds up to half of the total tax credit amount; the other half will be paid out when parents file their 2021 tax returns next year.
How will the payment be sent out?
The IRS has defaulted to direct deposit for people whose bank information they have on file. The alternative is mailing paper checks, so direct deposit is the superior method for reasons of convenience and security.
If you’ve been receiving paper checks but would like to switch to direct deposit, you can supply your IRS with your banking information at the Child Tax Credit Update Portal. That change won’t affect how the September payment is disbursed, but it will affect the October 15 payment if you submit it by October 4 at 9 p.m. Pacific time (midnight on the 5th in the east).
How has the program been going so far?
There are some ongoing issues with getting payments out to those most in need, but the effect of the program has been inarguably positive. The first payment alone took 6 million kids out of poverty, a 25 percent cut according to a Columbia University study. Working hard to make sure all eligible people receive the credit is a worthy endeavor, as is extending the new tax credit and its monthly payments past their scheduled expiration at the end of the year.