Child Tax Credit 2021: Here's when the fifth check will deposit

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Money from the Child Tax Credit program is set to hit U.S. parents' bank accounts on Monday. After that, the fifth such payment sent to Americans under the enhanced federal initiative, only one month of payments will remain unless lawmakers decide to renew the benefit.

The latest check will be deposited directly into the bank accounts of millions of parents on November 15, although some families may receive the check via mail, which could add several days to the delivery time. After that, the sixth and final check is scheduled to be deposited on December 15. 

The future of the expanded Child Tax Credit program remains in limbo amid negotiations over scaling back President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion social spending plan, which included an extension of the CTC through 2025. To slash spending in the bill, some lawmakers want to limit the tax credit's renewal to just one or two years. As talks among Democratic lawmakers continues, the future of the family assistance measure is unclear. 

“A lifeline for families”

Anti-poverty researchers say the monthly cash deposits are helping to cut hunger and hardship among families across the nation. Since July, the child allowance has been sent to roughly 60 million children each month. 

“Families need to plan, and they need to be able to plan for the long-term,” said Natalie Foster, co-chair of the Economic Security Project, a group that advocates for issues such as basic income. “The monthly checks have been a lifeline for families.”

She added, “It provided immediate support each month for families to fix a car, pay rent that is due the next month, put food on the table when the grocery bill are getting higher, pay for athletic uniforms as back to school costs mounted in August.”

Still, some lawmakers have pushed for limits, such as work requirements to qualify for the tax credit, with estimates that up to 1.5 million parents could leave the workforce due to the cash payments, or about 2.6% of all working parents. 

The expanded tax credit delivers monthly payments of $300 for each eligible child under 6, and $250 for each child between 6 to 17 years old.

Here's what to know about the fifth CTC check. 

When does the Child Tax Credit arrive in November? 

The fifth payment date is Monday, November 15, with the IRS sending most of the checks via direct deposit. The agency is tapping bank account information provided through individual tax returns or via its Non-filer tool, which is aimed at people who don't normally file tax returns. The bank deposit will be labeled “CHILDCTC.”

The final payment will arrive on December 15.

Can I opt out of the November payment?

Some people may want to opt out of the monthly payments, including if they would rather claim the entire CTC on their tax returns in early 2022. That could provide a bigger tax refund, for example.

It's too late to un-enroll from the November payment, as the IRS deadline to opt out was on November 1. But families can still opt out for the December check by un-enrolling via the Child Tax Credit Update Portal by November 29. 

I haven't received a CTC payment yet. Is it too late to get one?

Households that haven't yet received a Child Tax Credit payment still have another chance to get the payments before they expire: Until November 15, they can register at the GetCTC.org website to receive the advanced payment. 

However, families that sign up now will get their check as a single lump-sum payment in December for one-half of the full enhanced CTC, which amounts to $3,600 for kids under 6 and $3,000 for those between 6 to 17. In other words, the lump sum would be $1,800 for parents of children under 6 and $1,500 for all other eligible children.

If people miss that deadline, there's still another chance to receive the payment. Parents can claim the entire enhanced CTC on their 2021 tax returns when they file in early 2022. That means the entire enhanced credit will be sent to them as part of their tax refund. (Parents who received the monthly checks in 2021 can claim the other half of the enhanced CTC on their tax returns in early 2022.)

Can I update my bank account or address?

Yes, the IRS Child Tax Credit Update Portal (CTC UP) allows people to update their bank account information as well as their address. 

My income changed in 2021. Does that impact my CTC?

It could, depending on whether your income is close to the threshold for receiving the full enhanced CTC. 

The full amount of the enhanced CTC is only available to parents who earn below a certain income threshold. Single parents with adjusted gross income (AGI) of less than $75,000 and married couples filing a joint return with an AGI of below $150,000 are eligible for the full payments. 

Once a taxpayer earns above those income thresholds, the payment is reduced by $50 for each $1,000. 

The IRS is relying on your 2020 tax returns to determine eligibility. That means if your income in 2021 rose above that level, you may have received too much from the IRS. Likewise, if your income fell below that amount, you may be due more. 

The IRS said that people whose incomes have changed in 2021 can now go online to the Child Tax Credit Update Portal (CTC UP), click “Manage Advance Payments” and then “Report Life Changes” to update their income with the IRS.

Will the CTC extend beyond 2021? 

That's uncertain. If Congress doesn't extend it, the Child Tax Credit would revert to its pre-2021 level, or $2,000 for each child under the age of 17. That's less generous than the enhanced CTC and also excludes children who are 17 years old. 

The pre-2021 CTC also didn't include monthly payments; instead, parents claimed the tax credit annually on their tax return. 

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