Watch CBS News

Want a Child Tax Credit payment in 2021? Your last chance is approaching

Tackling the child care crisis
Tackling the child care crisis 05:33

The enhanced Child Tax Credit has two payments remaining before it is due to expire — unless lawmakers vote to extend the program for another year. While most families have been receiving the checks since the IRS started issuing the payments in July, there are still some households that may be missing out on getting the money. 

But households that haven't yet received a Child Tax Credit still have another chance to get the payments before they expire: Until the end of today, Monday, November 15, they can register for the payments at the website. 

While the IRS is sending out two more payments — including one on November 15 and the final payment on December 15 — families that sign up now will get their check as a single lump-sum payment in December. 

The expanded Child Tax Credit boosted the benefit to $3,600 for each child under 6, and $3,000 for kids ages 6 to 17, with half of those amounts provided in monthly checks from July through December. In other words, families received monthly payments of $300 for kids under 6, and $250 for each child age 6 to 17. 

Families that register now for the CTC will receive six months' worth of the payments in December: $1,800 for each younger child and $1,500 for older kids. (Parents who qualify for the payments will receive the other half of the expanded CTC when they file their taxes in early 2022, via a tax refund.)

To be sure, families that miss today's November 15 deadline can still receive the entire tax credit in early 2022, as long as they file their taxes and claim the credit on their 2021 tax return. 

U.S. housing insecurity amplified by pandemic 11:47

The families at greatest risk for losing out are low-income households who typically aren't required to file their taxes, according to a new study from the Urban Institute about the rollout of the payments. 

"Families with very low incomes are not required to file tax returns, though some do," the Urban Institute study noted. "Those who do not, non-filers, are at risk of missing out on the advance CTC payments before December, when payments of the 2021 credit will stop."

It added another risk: "They could also miss out on the credit entirely when tax returns are due in early 2022, given the challenges the IRS faces identifying and reaching non-filers."

Options for families who don't file taxes

While parents of more than 60 million children have received the payments since July, some Americans have slipped through the cracks because the IRS relies on tax returns to determine eligibility as well as where to send the payments. 

Overall, about 6 in 10 households with children under 17 reported receiving one of the monthly payments in the prior month, according to the Urban Institute analysis. But fewer than 5 in 10 families with incomes below $25,000 had said they'd received one of the payments, the study found. 

The website was created by Code for America and the White House to specifically reach out to low-income households that don't file taxes and therefore could miss out on the payments. Code for America, a technology nonprofit, has estimated that there are about 4 million families that don't file taxes. 

The IRS had also opened a non-filer portal for the CTC, but that site is now closed. Instead, it points people to the site to register for the payments. To do so, people will need to file a simplified tax return through the site, which requires information such as your Social Security number, your income and information on dependents. 

Will the expanded CTC continue beyond 2021? 

Meanwhile, the fate of the expanded CTC is unclear as Democrats negotiate over spending priorities. The tax credit, in its current form, may only be extended for another year or two, instead of the additional four years advocated by the White House, which CBS News had earlier reported.

Antipoverty advocates are urging lawmakers to extend the program — if even for one year. Since the payments began hitting bank accounts, child hunger and poverty has receded, with the Urban Institute finding that families are using the funds to pay for necessities such as food, clothing and school supplies.

"We know that these CTC checks are transforming the lives of children," said Natalie Foster, co-chair of the Economic Security Project, a group that advocates for issues such as basic income. "A one-year extension is a fraction of what kids need."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.