People have long been waiting for a fourth stimulus check, but it seems unlikely that Congress will send more direct payments. Some families, however, could get lucky and get a fourth coronavirus stimulus check just in time for Christmas. This stimulus check will be unlike the three stimulus checks that Congress has sent so far, rather it will be part of the expanded child tax credit program.
Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act, which was approved in March this year, extended the child tax credit from the usual $2,000 to up to $3,600. Under the new program, families with kids under the age of six are eligible to get up to $3,600 per year, while those kids aged 6 to 17 could get up to $3,000.
Also, the program changed the way families get the CTC payment. Prior to the American Rescue Plan Act, families got the CTC payment after filing their tax return. However, for 2021, the eligible families get half the credit in advance in the form of six monthly installments (July to December), and the other half after filing their tax return in 2022.
This means eligible families get up to $300 per month for each kid below six years and $250 per month for each kid aged 6 to 17. So far, the IRS has sent five monthly installments of the child tax credit, and will send the final payment next month.
Most families eligible for the child tax credit started getting the payment automatically based on their 2020 tax returns. Families who don’t normally file a tax return, or aren’t required to file a return due to low income, had to sign up using the IRS tool to get the payment.
Such families had until November 15 to sign up for the child tax credit payment. After signing up, these families would become eligible for a fourth coronavirus stimulus check of up to $1,800 (up to $1,500 per child over six) before the end of the year.
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What If I Missed The November 15 Deadline?
As per the IRS, families who sign up by November 15 would get half of their entire child tax credit in one lump sum on December 15.
“This is the same total amount that most other families have been receiving in up to six monthly payments that began in July,” the IRS says.
The November 15 deadline is already over. If you believe you are eligible for the child tax credit but missed the November 15 deadline, you don’t need to worry as you would still get the expanded CTC payment. However, instead of a lump sum payment before the end of the year, you will get the payment after filing a tax return next year.
Separately, families who are already receiving monthly payments have until November 29 to update their account details, if there is a need. They need to use the Child Tax Credit Update Portal (CTC-UP) for updating their account details.