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Problems with your child tax credit? Here’s what you need to know

The rollout of this year’s expanded child tax credit is sure to experience some hiccups. 


Sarah Tew/CNET

Last week, nearly 35 million eligible families received their first child tax credit payment, with most sent as direct deposits. Paper checks were mailed out on Friday, so that should arrive in the mail soon if you’re waiting for one. But this round of payments didn’t come without a few bumps — parents have been reporting issues and confusion with the child tax credit.

The next payment is scheduled for Aug. 13 — you can make sure you get the right payment amount based on your income and number of dependents. By using the IRS portals, you still have time to fix any errors that could be holding up your money. Also, it’s not too late to unenroll from the monthly checks if you’re worried about an overpayment that might have you owing money to the IRS next year.

We’ll help answer some of your questions about the child tax credit below. In the meantime, the IRS has tried to make it easier for parents to check on the status of their payments. If you want to use the Update Portal to manage your payments, you may need to create an ID.me account if you haven’t already. We’ll update this story regularly.

I qualify for the child tax credit. Why haven’t I received a payment yet?

If you qualify for the enhanced credit but haven’t received your payment, it could be for a number of reasons. Did you file a tax return in 2019 or 2020? If not, the IRS may not have the most updated information — especially if you had a child during that time. You can use the IRS nonfiler portal to register for future payments.

If you did file your taxes, check the Update Portal to see if your payment is coming by mail. If so, give it several days as it could take a bit longer to arrive. If you have direct deposit set up, make sure all the information is accurate. Note that if you didn’t set up your banking details before June 28, you should expect to get a paper check for the July payment.

If everything looks correct but you still didn’t get a payment, you may need to file a payment trace with the IRS. To do that, you’ll need to complete Form 3911 and mail it to the IRS. Only do this if it’s been at least five days since the scheduled deposit date or four weeks since the payment was mailed by check.

Reasons you didn’t get a child tax credit payment

The problem What to do
You didn’t file a 2019 or 2020 tax return. Use the IRS nonfiler portal.
Your payment is coming in the mail. Give it time to arrive as it could take several days.
You can’t find any reason why you didn’t get a payment. It may be time to file a payment trace with the IRS.

The portal says I’m not eligible, but I still got a payment. What should I do?

With the IRS sending out millions of child tax credit payments, along with keeping up with income tax refunds and unemployment tax refunds, it’s certainly possible the agency could have made a mistake. For instance, some people who weren’t qualified for the stimulus checks still received payment.

If you’re absolutely positive you’re not eligible for the enhanced child tax credit payments but you got a payment anyways, you’ll need to return that money to the IRS. Start by using the IRS Update Portal to unenroll from future payments — the deadline to opt out of the next payment is Aug. 2. This will help prevent you from having to pay back more money when you file your taxes in 2022.

On the other hand, some members of a Reddit forum are reporting that despite the child tax credit portal showing they aren’t eligible, they do meet the requirements and did receive their first payment. We’ve contacted the IRS for more details on this situation.

Problems with your child tax credit? Here's what you need to know


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How can I tell if a bank deposit is the child tax credit payment?

Aside from the IRS portal showing your payment was issued, you can check your bank account for the deposit. According to the White House website, transactions will contain the company name “IRS TREAS 310” with a description of “CHILDCTC” and an amount for up to $300 per kid. Don’t get this deposit confused with those for stimulus checks, which show up as “TAXEIP3” when deposited. Also, if you’re waiting on a tax refund, it’ll show up as “TAX REF.”

Will I have to pay any child tax credit money back?

It depends. If you’re eligible for the full amount of child tax credit money, you won’t have to pay it back. However, if you don’t qualify for the full amount because of a change in your income or number of dependents but receive the full amount anyway, you may need to pay that extra money back. 

The IRS is using what it calls “payment protection” so if you do receive an overpayment but fall below a set income level, you don’t have to pay back an overpayment. Above that income level, you will have to pay back some or all of the extra money. Here’s more on the income levels and how the payment protection works.

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The first payment was sent on July 15.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Will these enhanced child tax credit payments go past 2022?

As of right now, the enhanced payments for this tax year. That means after you get your final payment with your tax refund in 2022, the child tax credit will revert back to its original amount. However, it’s possible President Joe Biden and Congress could come to an agreement to extend the payments in 2025 — or make the changes permanent. Last week, Biden said he is urging Congress to do that: “I say to my colleagues in Congress: This tax cut for working families is something we should extend, not end, next year.”

While no decision has been made yet, we’ll keep you updated on the outcome.

For more information, here’s how to opt out of future child tax credit payments. Also, here’s how to track down your child tax credit payment if you didn’t receive it. Not sure you got the right amount? Use CNET’s child tax credit calculator to see how much you should get.

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