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Stimulus check update: How to make sure you’re signed up for the final payment of 2021

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In less than a month, the final child tax credit payment of 2021 arrives. Another round of $15 billion will go out to 36 million or so families, capping off one of the federal government’s most extraordinary responses to the financial damage of the coronavirus pandemic. But this time around, not every check will be created equal. Some people are getting an outsized check in December, to catch them up on the money they’re owed. Other people are unenrolling completely from this six-check series. Importantly, the IRS child tax portal is a linchpin for all of that.

A brief recap

stimulus check with cash
Cash is shown on top of a stimulus check. Image source: pixelrobot/Adobe

As late as this month, some people had not yet started getting the child tax credit checks. Which, remember, stem from the $1.9 trillion stimulus law earlier this year. And they promised a few hundred extra dollars a month for households with eligible children. So what does the IRS’ special site have to do with this process?

First, some background. 2021, by the time it’s over, will have brought six of those checks. One each month, starting July 15 and ending on December 15. There’s a chance these monthly payments could also continue for one more year. That’s because, on Friday, Democrats in the US House finally passed President Biden’s $1.75 trillion Build Back Better Act. That bill now moves to the Senate — and, as of right now, a one-year extension of the child tax credit expansion is included.

There’s no guarantee, however, that extension will survive the wrangling that’s about to happen in the Senate. Two Democrats, in particular (Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin) have resolutely opposed many aspects of Biden’s big-spending plans.

Now, let’s return to the IRS portal and why it matters.

IRS child tax portal details

irs website screenshot
A screenshot of the IRS’ child tax credit update portal. Image source: IRS.gov

We noted above that some people signed up to start their child tax credit issuance late. If that’s you, then you can use this portal to check and make sure you’re definitely squared away for next month.

Most people will get the regular child tax credit amount of a few hundred dollars on December 15. If this is your first or second stimulus check, however, the IRS will be sending you a much bigger amount. That’s in order to make sure you get the same amount (again, in one or two checks) that it took everybody else six checks to get.

Under “How It Works” at the IRS portal, as you can see above, you can easily check to make sure you’re enrolled for payments. Some people, meanwhile, might also want to make sure they’re opted out of the monthly payments. The deadline to have done so is November 29, at 11:59 pm ET, and you can use the IRS child tax portal to do that.

No more checks in 2021

As a reminder: After December, there will be no additional child tax credit payments in 2021.

The IRS says it’s sending out a letter, probably in early 2022, that families will need to use when they fill out their federal tax forms next year. This letter will have all the details of their child tax credit checks from this year. And recipients will use that information to accurately prepare their tax returns.

Families will also need to claim the second half of this year’s child tax credit amount on their tax return next year. That’s separate from any expansion of the credit for 2022 that might get approved.

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.




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