Key Point: In just a few short days—July 15 to be exact—roughly forty million American families will get to start enjoying their newest federal government-issued cash windfall that will come in the form of expanded child tax credits.
Approved under President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, the government will now allow parents to collect as much as $3,600 per year for a child under the age of six and up to $3,000 for children between ages six and seventeen. Broken down further, the figures amount to a $250 or a $300 payment for each child every month through the end of 2021.
In an effort to streamline the disbursement of these funds, the Internal Revenue Service already has launched three important online tools that should help eligible parents get their hands on the money without much trouble.
Perhaps the most noteworthy of the three tools is the Child Tax Credit Update Portal, which is available on IRS.gov. This particular portal should be the go-to tool for parents who want to change how they would like to be paid, such as from paper checks to direct deposit. Do take note that any updates made by August 2 will apply to the August 13 and all subsequent child tax credit payments.
The agency is urging families to strongly consider switching to direct deposit if possible.
“With direct deposit, families can access their money more quickly,” the IRS says. “Direct deposit removes the time, worry and expense of cashing a check. In addition, direct deposit eliminates the chance of a lost, stolen or undelivered check.”
Be aware that the Child Tax Credit Update Portal offers other handy options as well, such as opting out from receiving the monthly payments so that they can get a one-time lump sum during tax season next year.
“The Update Portal is a key piece among the three new tools now available on IRS.gov to help families understand, register for and monitor these payments. We will be working across the nation with partner groups to share information and help eligible people receive the advance payments,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a press statement.
Another tool potentially eligible parents should take time to look at is the Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant, which allows parents to answer a series of questions regarding themselves and their family members that will help determine whether they indeed qualify for the credits.
“This new tool provides an important first step to help people understand if they qualify for the Child Tax Credit (CTC), which is especially important for those who don't normally file a tax return,” Rettig said in a statement.
For individuals who normally don’t file a federal tax return, make sure to log on to the Non-filer Sign-up Tool. The IRS says that the information garnered from this portal will assist the agency to promptly issue the child tax credits.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-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.