In July and August, many families faced unexpected delays in receiving their monthly Child Tax Credit advance checks. The reasons for these delays varied. For many non-citizens with Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITIN numbers), the IRS had difficulty processing the payments. For others, the mail system itself was simply unable to deliver the checks for weeks.
However, a large number of recipients were simply unable to receive their checks because of a more mundane issue: the IRS had recorded their address incorrectly, or the family had moved and forgotten to update the tax agency.
In recognition of this problem, the IRS has launched a new portal on its website, allowing any of the thirty-six million families receiving Child Tax Credit advance payments to update their mailing addresses. The feature is called the Child Tax Credit Update Portal, and families hoping to receive their September checks on time will need to make the updates by next week–specifically by Monday, August 30. Any updates made after this date will most likely not take effect until the October checks, according to the agency.
Any family expecting to receive the Child Tax Credit payments–possibly because the IRS sent out a letter in advance describing the payment system–can check the status of their payments via the same tool on the IRS website. The agency has also provided a number of other tools, including a way to opt out of the early payments and receive the money as a lump sum in April–or to sign up in the first place, if eligible and not included by the IRS.
President Joe Biden approved the advance Child Tax Credit payments by signing into law the American Rescue Plan Act in March 2021. Among other measures–such as sending out the third round of $1,400 stimulus checks that month–the plan increased the yearly Child Tax Credit from $2,000 per child per year to $3000, with a $600 bonus for children aged five and under. The measure also made the credit fully refundable, meaning that parents with tax burdens lower than $3,000 could still claim the full amount. This measure has been highly popular among anti-poverty advocates, who have since pushed for the measure to become permanent–although a serious effort to do so is likely to meet opposition from fiscal conservatives on Capitol Hill, and opinion polls have suggested that a majority of Americans would not support.
Trevor Filseth is a current and foreign affairs writer for the National Interest.