If you’re a parent who hasn’t been getting monthly installments of the 2021 federal child tax credit, you have a few days left to register for a lump-sum benefit worth up to $1,800 per child.
Most parents with kids at home have been getting payments automatically, but those who don’t usually file tax returns—often because they don’t earn much money—must register to receive them. If that’s you or someone you know, you have until Nov. 15 to register with the official online tool from the IRS or the more user-friendly getctc.org website. Once you do, the IRS will catch you up, distributing half the total value of the credit (up to $1,800 per child) on Dec. 15.
Anyone who doesn’t register by Nov. 15 can still claim the credit, but not until next year, when they can file a tax return for 2021.
The child tax credit is a bigger deal this year not only because of the unusual distribution of monthly payments, but also because households that didn’t earn enough to be eligible for a full—or in some cases, any—tax offset in the past can get the full amount of the credit for 2021.
The American Rescue Plan relief bill authorized a temporary overhaul of the credit, not only expanding the eligibility but increasing the per-child amount to up to $3,600 from $2,000 (depending on the age of the child and income of the household) and ordering the IRS to advance half of it in monthly payments that started in July.
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