Will child tax credit checks end next year or be extended? Here’s the latest

Expect monthly payments through December, as well as a payout during tax season next year. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

After the third advance child tax credit check arrives Wednesday, there will be only three more payments left in 2021 and one in 2022. A number of changes to this year’s enhanced credit make it unique. For one, parents are getting 50% of the total credit through advance monthly installments, and the other 50% with their tax refund. The total credit is also bigger — up to $3,000 annually for each child between ages 6 and 17, and up to $3,600 annually for each under age 6 — and it is fully refundable. 

And there’s a chance that revamped benefit could be extended to 2025. The latest piece of Democratic legislation in the House proposes that it become part of a massive $3.5 trillion spending plan, addressing the needs of low-income families. But until it becomes final legislation, there are still several deadlines for the remainder of this year’s credit that parents should be aware of. 

For example, families that are now choosing to opt out of the advance payment program need to do so before Oct. 4, which means they’ll be unenrolled by the October check. It’s also a good idea for families to update their banking details or mailing address if they’ve had problems receiving the first two payments. The IRS Update Portal allows parents to manage their monthly payments and household information (more below). 

And here’s why you may want to unenroll from the monthly checks and what to do if you’ve received the wrong payment amount

When are the remaining child tax credit payments?

Counting the upcoming September payment, the IRS has four more rounds of advance partial payments to send to those who qualify. The IRS has sent more than $30 billion in the July and August installments, and 80% of those were direct deposits; the rest went out as checks in the mail. 

Here are the payment dates to keep track of September through December 2021 and in 2022:

  • Sept. 15
  • Oct. 15
  • Nov. 15
  • Dec. 15 (last payment of 2021)
  • Tax season 2022 (remainder of money)

What about filing taxes next year?

After you receive whatever monthly payments the IRS sends you this year, the remainder of your money will come with your tax refund in 2022, after you file your 2021 tax return next spring. While the IRS did extend the 2020 and 2021 tax filing dates due to the pandemic, you typically have from the end of January to April 15 to file.

What are the deadlines to opt out of advance checks?

If you decide to unenroll from the monthly payments this year, you still have time to have the remainder of your child tax credit money show up next tax season. You may decide to unenroll, for example, if you think you may need to pay back money when you file your taxes in 2022.

Note that the IRS opt-out deadlines are about two weeks ahead of the payment dates. If you miss one deadline for a round of checks, your changes will take effect with the next round. And these are the same deadlines you need to hit for making other changes to your account, such as adding your banking information or changing your mailing address. While the Update Portal doesn’t yet allow you to make changes to your income, marital status and number of dependents, you should be able to do so before the October payment. 

The IRS said if you unenroll and later change your mind, you’ll be able to opt back in sometime in late September.

Here are the remaining dates by which you would need to unenroll:

  • You can no longer opt out of the September payment.
  • Oct. 4 (for October payment)
  • Nov. 1 (for November payment)
  • Nov. 29 (for December payment)

Will advance child tax credit payments be extended?

Given the popularity of the program with millions of families, there is a chance the expanded credit could be extended at least a few years. House Democrats have recently come up with a proposal to keep the increased benefit going until 2025. It would also allow low-income families who don’t earn enough to owe taxes to get the benefit. 

Senate Democrats are considering extending the current child tax credit payment program until 2024, but the amount of money may be less than this year’s payments, that is, reverting to amounts from prior years. 

How can I calculate my credit ahead of tax season?

To help you file your taxes next year and either claim whatever amount the IRS still owes you or — much less likely — repay money you received but didn’t qualify for, the IRS will send you a letter in January 2022 with the total amount of child tax credit money you received in 2021. You’ll use information from this letter, which the IRS is calling Letter 6419, when you file your tax return.

For more, here’s everything you need to know about the 2021 child tax credit and what to do if you need to track down a missing payment. Here’s also what we know about what the spending bills making their way through Congress could mean for you.

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