The first of monthly child tax credit payments worth up to $300 per child were sent out yesterday, but what should you do if it hasn’t arrived yet? Well, delays are expected—even for direct deposits set up with the IRS—so don’t panic just yet. Here’s a look at what to expect for delays, and the steps you can take if your payment never arrives.
What is the child tax credit?
As part of the American Rescue Plan signed into law last March, families in 2021 are entitled to tax credits worth up to $3,600 per child. Half of that is being sent to taxpayers early, either as monthly checks or through direct deposit, on the fifteenth of every month until the end of the year (for more details on how the credit works, read this Lifehacker post).
What kind of delays can be expected?
Direct deposits might be delayed for two to three business days from July 15, which means that you might not see a payment until after the weekend. Payments sent as checks can take one to two weeks, so you could receive yours closer to the end of the month.
What if the child tax benefit payments never arrive?
As a first step, the IRS recommends logging into their child tax credit portal if you haven’t received your first payment yet. There, you can double-check your eligibility and whether the payment has been processed. If your eligibility status is “pending,” it means that the IRS is still determining whether you qualify. Unfortunately, the agency doesn’t provide much guidance beyond that, other than recommending that you check the portal again later. Per CNET, if you’re checking your bank account to see if the payment was deposited, look for a deposit labeled, “CHILDCTC.”
(In addition to your payment status, the portal will be updated over the next few weeks so that you’ll be able to change your address, the status of your dependents, and update your salary for 2021).
What if a payment is processed but I still haven’t received it?
If you see a processed payment in the portal and you don’t receive it, you can try something called a payment trace, which is a request to find out what happened to your money. A trace can take up to six weeks to process, so you’ll only want to use this option after enough time has passed, as your payment might still be on its way.
Before you initiate a payment trace, the IRS recommends making sure that enough time has passed from the date of your payment, as follows:
- Direct deposit: five days
- Mailed check to a standard address: four weeks
- Mailed check to a forwarded address: six weeks
- Mailed check to a foreign address: nine weeks
If none of this works, the worst case scenario is that you’ll have to claim the full credit later as part of your 2021 tax return.