Opt Out of CTC? For Married Couples, Each Must Unenroll.

August 18, 2021 Topic: economy Region: Americas Blog Brand: Politics Tags: IRSTaxesCreditsAmerican Rescue PlanJoe Biden

Opt Out of CTC? For Married Couples, Each Must Unenroll.

There have been some glitches though. Some “mixed-status” families—those with one parent being a U.S. citizen and the other being an immigrant—have yet to see last month’s tax credits in their bank accounts.


Late last week, the Internal Revenue Service announced that the second batch of advance monthly payments worth about $15 billion from the expanded child tax credits was disbursed to thirty-six million American families.  

This was surely embraced by millions of cash-strapped parents, but there was also an uptick in the number of families who have decided to forego the payments to protect themselves come tax season next year. The IRS has already made it known that in some instances, these currently credit-eligible parents must repay the child tax credits—a $250 or a $300 payment per child each month through the end of 2021—if their financial situations change this year. 

Do be aware that the federal government is directed under President Joe Biden’s nearly $2 trillion American Rescue Plan to send out advance payments of the credit in periodic installments. And since these payments are largely based off the tax agency’s estimates on available data—such as income, marital status, and number and age of qualifying dependent children—there could potentially be outdated or inaccurate data that trigger an overpayment. 

Stopping Payments 

“Families can stop payments anytime, even after payments begin. They do that by using the unenroll feature in the Child Tax Credit Update Portal,” the IRS stated in a press statement.  

“Eligible families who make this choice will still receive the rest of their Child Tax Credit as a lump sum when they file their 2021 federal income tax return next year. To stop all payments starting in September and the rest of 2021, they must unenroll by 11:59 p.m. ET on August 30, 2021,” the agency said in the press statement.  

For married couples, however, the process to opt-out is more complicated, as “each spouse must unenroll separately.”  

“If they each choose to unenroll, they will receive no monthly payments. If only one spouse unenrolls, they will still receive monthly payments, but they will be half the normal amount,” according to the press statement.  

Glitch Found 

Despite being in the early stages of the rollout of the child tax credit payments, the IRS already has been dealing with glitches. The agency recently admitted that some “mixed-status” families—those with one parent being a U.S. citizen and the other being an immigrant—have yet to see last month’s tax credits in their bank accounts.  

The IRS confirmed that the nonpayment was indeed a mistake, and the payments are currently being sent out. According to Biden’s stimulus bill, parents who file their federal taxes with either a valid Social Security number or an IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number and whose children have Social Security numbers are eligible to receive the child tax credits.  

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.  

Image: Reuters