Eligible families hoping to receive child tax credit payments before the end of the year don't have much time left to sign up, but those who do will benefit from a large increase.
Monday marks the deadline for those eligible to sign up to receive funds on Dec. 15, the final payment date of the year.
Families who have yet to enroll will get the entire first half of the credit in December, meaning they’ll see one large check this year. That’s because the monthly money is an advance on a 2021 tax credit, half to be delivered this year, and the rest to come when families file their taxes next year.
Sign up for enhanced child tax credit payments here.
Payments are automatically distributed to eligible families who filed a 2019 or 2020 income tax return, according to the IRS. November's payment was scheduled to be disbursed Monday.
The American Rescue Plan passed in March expanded the existing child tax credit, adding advance monthly payments and increasing the benefit to $3,000 from $2,000 with a $600 bonus for kids under the age of 6 for the 2021 tax year.
After December, families will have to file a tax return and wait to get the entire credit as a refund from the IRS. On the other hand, families claiming the credit now will get cash up front and receive the second half when they file 2021 taxes next year.
Experts say that everyone with an eligible child should sign up as soon as they are able, unless they are part of a family who know they want to opt out and receive the benefit in a lump sum next year.
“We would hate for money to be left on the table when people are hungry, when people have housing insecurities, food insecurities,” said Otis Rolley, senior vice president of the U.S. equity and economic opportunity initiative at the Rockefeller Foundation.
It may also be important for families to claim the money now as the enhanced child tax credit may not be continued for much longer. Democrats are fighting to keep the credit for one more year, but that may change as lawmakers continue to negotiate President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan.
Eligible families who don't receive the checks automatically can sign up online at GetCTC.org.