No child tax credit payments? Here's how to locate your missing check

No child tax credit payments? Here's how to locate your missing check ...

In less than two weeks, the October child tax credit payment will be announced, but you may be wondering where your September (or July or August) check is. The IRS said a technical issue caused 2% of eligible households to miss last month's payment and that it is working to resolve the problem to issue delayed checks. The problem affected parents who had updated bank account or address through the IRS Update Portal. Don't worry, we'll show you how to file a payment trace with the IRS (more on this later).

On top of September's problem, some parents are getting child tax credit checks with the wrong amount. We found that if only one parent in a married household corrected monetary information or e-mail addresses, it may have reduced the amount of this month's payment. Parents may have received more money than they qualify for because of outdated tax forms, which may also affect their taxes next year.

Before the next deadline, Nov. 1, we'll show you how to use the IRS Update Portal to review your processed payments, update your information, or opt out of the remaining monthly checks. The deadline for October's payment has passed. Here's the latest on other common child tax credit problems and the child credit extension. We've corrected this story.

What should I do if I haven't received a check yet?

In July, the 2021 advance monthly child tax credit payments were automatically introduced. Even though child tax credit payments are scheduled to be made on certain dates, you may not receive the money as you expected due to a number of reasons. The IRS may not have an up-to-date mailing address or banking information for you. The mailed check may be delayed by the US Postal Service or the direct deposit payment may still be being processed.

It's also worth noting that if you've been a victim of tax-related identity theft, you won't receive child tax credit payments until those issues have been resolved with the IRS. If the issues aren't resolved this year, you'll get the whole amount when you file taxes in 2022. And remember, even if you have unpaid state or federal debt, you should still receive child tax credit payments.

Because of an IRS technical error, about 700,000 households didn't receive a payment in September. Problems with missing payments were also reported in previous months among "mixed-status" families, where one parent is a US citizen and the other is an immigrant, though that issue should have been addressed for later payments.

Another reason your check may be delayed is that your 2020 return is still being processed; the IRS is continuing to deal with a backlog of returns. If your information has changed or you had a baby recently, the IRS may not be aware that it owes you the credit, especially if the tax agency is based the refund on your 2019 tax return while the latest one is being processed.

How do I obtain a status update on my money?

From now until December, expect recurring monthly payments to reapply on the 15th of each month. You may check your monthly payment history using the Child Tax Credit Update Portal, according to the IRS. It'll be a good way to keep an eye on pending payments that haven't yet reached your bank account.

If you still haven't received the money you're due, check to see if the Payments section of the Update Portal has any information. Make sure your address and banking information are correct if the payment was delivered -- especially a case where you've relocated or changed banks.

You'll need to register with your IRS username and account information to check on your payments online. First-time users will need a photo ID (it's one of the ways the IRS is attempting to protect your information from identity theft). We don't know if the portal will also display other payment details, such as banking information, amount, the check's processing date, or what may be causing a delay in the payment.

Look for the deposit code when you're checking your bank account. CHILDCTCTC CHILLDCTFTCCHILDACTC . If your bank hasn't received the IRS deposit, it won''ll have no processing information for you if you're trying to locate your check. If you believe there's an error, use the Update Portal to double-check your bank information and routing numbers.

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When should I file a payment trace for my missing child tax credit check?

The IRS also offers a payment trace as he/she can determine where you received your money, including missing stimulus checks. You may request a trace -- which includes asking for information about the location of your IRS money -- by mailing or faxing Form 3911 (PDF) to the tax agency. Even if the IRS says you aren't eligible for advance payments, it's best to keep a payment trace in case of unforeseen errors in the portal.

If it has been at least five days since the deposit date and the bank hasn't received the money, four weeks since it was delivered, or six weeks if it is mailed to a forwarded address listed by USPS, your payment will be traceable. If the check was sent to a foreign address, you may request revocation of the payment trace within nine weeks.

At first glance, the steps to obtain a payment trace may seem daunting. You'll need to print and mail the IRS Form 3911 (PDF) to begin tracking your child tax credit payment. Contact your local tax professional if you need assistance completing the form. Before you do, here are a few things to remember.

  • An IRS official told CNET that there isn't an abbreviation or code to include in the "Inquiry" field. You'll need to be as specific as possible about what payment you'd like to track. Make sure to state the month the payment was made and the date you're tracking a child tax credit check.
  • If you paid taxes jointly, both parents will need to sign the form to begin the payment trace process.
  • Check if your money was sent via direct deposit or check. If your banking information is listed on the Child Tax Credit Update Portal, we recommend using the direct deposit box.
  • You'll need to send the form to the address where you would send a paper tax return in your area. The IRS has a list of addresses and fax numbers to assist.
  • You should not request a payment trace to determine your eligibility or to confirm your child tax credit amount.
  • It may take up to 60 days to get a response.

What if my payment amount isn't what I expected?

Your child's tax credit checks may have been less or more than you expected. If you meet all of the child tax credit requirements and find that you're receiving less or more money than expected, there are a few steps you can take. Start by checking your eligibility based on your most recent tax return using the IRS Eligibility Assistant.

According to a Sept. 24 IRS statement, "There are several reasons why people may be seeing fewer dollars than they expected." If only one spouse changed an address or bank account, the other spouse's half may be returning to the old address and bank accounts. In such circumstances, the entire payment will still be distributed. Monthly payment amounts may also vary depending on newly filed tax returns. "

Your 2019 tax return could have been used by the IRS to determine your eligibility for this year's credit. Once the IRS receives your 2020 tax return, it will automatically adjust your advance monthly payments. If you didn't file your taxes, use the Child Tax Credit Non-filer Sign-up Tool to add your information and determine eligibility.

If you didn't receive one of your checks, you may still receive it with the next scheduled payment date after the IRS makes an adjustment. Parents who have not received payments this year should expect their remaining checks to be larger, since they will be spread out over four months rather than six, say, according to experts.

One parent may get less money if they fall outside of the income bracket for the maximum monthly payment amount. Married couples filing jointly earning up to $150,000 and single filers earning upwards of $75,000 may be eligible for the entire amount. For every $1,000 in income, the monthly check is reduced by $50 for each $1,000 you make more. So, if you earn $80,000 as a single filer, you may only be entitled to up to $200 per month -- depending on other eligibility factors.

How do I contact the IRS with questions?

You may have questions about your child tax credit eligibility, missing check, or changes to your information. Your first thought may be to call the IRS, but due to the tax return backlog, delayed stimulus checks, and unemployment tax refunds, there's no live help. The IRS has not revealed a separate phone number for child tax credit questions, but the primary number to answer tax-related queries is 800-829-1040.

Instead of calling, it may be quicker to check the IRS website for answers to your questions. And remember, the Update Portal can assist you with eligibility, payment history, and updating your personal information online.

Is it possible to end the monthly payments this year?

The child tax credit requirements are different than they were in previous years. If you're awarded more money than you are eligible for, you may have to pay the IRS back. It's important to use the Child Tax Credit Update Portal to notify the IRS of changes to your household circumstances so that adjustments may be made.

You may opt out of advance monthly child tax credit payments to receive one lump sum at tax time in 2022. It may be the easiest way to avoid paying the IRS if you're not eligible for monthly payments, especially unless your income changes this year. You may opt out of the Child Tax Credit Update Portal at any time by visiting the Children Tax Update website. You'll only have to unenroll once, and you're likely to be able to reenrol later this month if you need to.

If you or your spouse did not enroll in the child tax credit program but still received the money, it's possible that you didn't do so in time. You must do so at least three days before the first Thursday of the month because it can take up to seven calendar days to process the request. The deadline to update your information for October's check has passed. The next deadline is Nov. 1. Note that if you file taxes jointly, both parents must unenroll. Otherwise, the spouse who does not opt out will get half of the payment.

Here are the deadlines for unenrolling:

The IRS will send a notice (Letter 6419) closer to tax time in 2022 with the adjusted credit amount based on the advance payments already paid to you. Hold on to this letter because it'll be critical when you file your 2021 income tax return if you're required to return part of your payment. If you paid the first and second child tax credit amounts, but aren't eligible, it's best to opt out before October' s payment.

How do I update my mailing address or direct deposit details before the next check?

The deadline to update banking and mailing information prior to the October check has passed, but you may still make changes before the November payment. The IRS recommends using direct deposit to make future payments sooner. Eligible parents who have banking information on file from stimulus checks or tax refunds with the IRS should have received money via direct deposit. If the IRS doesn't have your account information, you may submit it using the Child Tax Credit Update Portal for the October payment. Any changes after this date will not be considered until the November advance check.

If you don't update your banking information in time, look for a check mailed to the address that the IRS has on file for you -- similar to requesting emailed tax refunds. And the good news is that you may now update your mailing address through the Update Portal. The IRS intends to expand the functionality of that portal so that you may update your income and number of children in the near future.

A Reddit user in July reported that the IRS is having a few problems with the child tax credit checks, but that it is working to resolve them. If you're waiting for your payment and the portal says it's "Pending," keep holding on. A check will be sent to you shortly via direct deposit or mail. After a week, you may try to contact the IRS or, if necessary, do securing.

We'll continue to update this story with new information about tool upgrades, the child tax credit program, and tracking your payments. Take a look at how joint child custody impacts the child tax credit as well.

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