Here's What You Need to Remember: To use the portal, a person needs to register with an IRS username and an ID.me account—usually requiring a photo ID to use. If this is provided, the agency can trace a person’s payments, at least as far as the mailbox.
In March 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act increased the annual Child Tax Credit, sent out to parents to help offset the cost of raising children, from $2,000 per child per year to $3,000, with an added $600 bonus for children five and under. The legislation also made the credit fully refundable, effectively turning it into a miniature stimulus check, and arranged for half of it to be sent out early in the form of monthly payments to thirty-six million households, containing roughly ninety percent of America’s children.
The first of these payments were sent on July 15; the second was sent on August 13, and the third is anticipated to be mailed out on September 15. Millions of American households have already received the checks and spent them. Some, however, have yet to receive their first checks, for various reasons. In some cases, the delay is the fault of the postal system; in others, the IRS has recorded a person’s address wrong, meaning that the checks are being sent to the wrong place.
Other problems abound. Some number of checks intended for direct deposit were accidentally sent as paper checks, further delaying the process. The agency has also experienced its own technical difficulties; in particular, parents with Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITINs), usually immigrants, have experienced difficulties in receiving the payments, which the IRS has acknowledged and made efforts to correct. (While children are required to have Social Security Numbers to be counted for the payments, their parents are not.)
To help families determine the status of their checks, the IRS has rolled out its Update Portal, adding a feature that parents can use to quickly update their mailing addresses for future checks. For the September 15 checks, the deadline to change one’s address is Monday, August 30; past this date, the September check will go out as scheduled, and the October check will arrive at the new address.
The IRS’s Update Portal also allows a person to track their check, viewing its history and whether an attempt to deposit it has been made yet. This is particularly useful for direct deposit, which can be easily traced on request by the IRS. Paper checks are harder to track because they are mixed in with other mail and not prioritized by the U.S. Postal Service.
To use the portal, a person needs to register with an IRS username and an ID.me account—usually requiring a photo ID to use. If this is provided, the agency can trace a person’s payments, at least as far as the mailbox.
Trevor Filseth is a current and foreign affairs writer for the National Interest. This article is being republished due to reader interest.