It’s hard to believe there are only five weeks left until the end of 2021. Within that timeframe, we’ll have celebrated Christmas — and many people will also have gotten at least one more stimulus check. In many cases, more than one.
Some of the new checks and payments will come as a surprise. Others, of course, we know about and families are already expecting. Like the sixth and final child tax credit coming on December 15. In this post, we’ll go through some of what’s coming — the surprises, and everything else.
Surprise stimulus checks on the way
For some people, December’s stimulus check might be surprisingly outsized. That’s because not every child tax credit check coming next month will be created equal.
Most recipients will get the same amount that’s come over the past five checks. Totaling a few hundred dollars per eligible child, in other words. Meanwhile, some families have only just now started to get these checks. If that’s you, and if you signed up by November 15, the IRS is going to send you a sort of catch-up check in December.
What took families six checks to receive will come as a lump-sum payment in December. And the important thing to remember is that yours will still only represent an advance payment for half of the overall child tax credit amount you’re eligible for. Everyone will get the second half next year, as a tax credit when they file their federal income taxes.
Stimulus checks in certain states
The post-Thanksgiving wave of stimulus checks like these isn’t just coming from the federal government, either.
States like Maine are sending out checks to residents. In that state, a one-time payment worth $285 is going to more than 500,000 residents. Those checks are going out in waves through the end of the year.
Same with California, where the Golden State Stimulus II is paying residents as much as $1,100.
It’s not just checks — families can get tax credits, too
Meanwhile, there’s another stimulus benefit available to take advantage of that many people might not know about. It’s the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.
This is another important tax-related benefit for working families. Essentially, parents for 2021 are eligible to claim as much as 50% of childcare expenses of up to $8,000. For, at most, two children. But it’s not just meant for expenses related to children. As the name implies, the expenses can also stem from a spouse, parent, or another dependent who you take care of who can’t care for themselves.
Here’s what the IRS says about it. “The child and dependent care tax credit is a credit allowed for a percentage of work-related expenses that a taxpayer incurs for the care of qualifying persons to enable the taxpayer to work or look for work.”
By the numbers
Kiplinger’s has a good explanation of some of the highlights. For starters, every family with an adjusted gross income of no more than $125,000 can get this tax credit. It will cover 50% of their qualifying expenses. However, that number drops to 20% for incomes between $125,001 and $183,001.
You can visit this IRS portal to get all your key questions answered about this tax credit. To claim it for 2021, according to the IRS, you’ll need to complete Form 2441. Also, you (and your spouse, if applicable) must have “earned income,” from a job.
Married couples must file a joint tax return to obtain the credit. Potential recipients are also required to provide details like the name and Taxpayer ID Number of the person who provided the care.