Didn’t receive your child tax credit payment? Here’s how to track it

Eligible families may get up to $300 per child with the new child tax credit program.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Over 36 million families received the first of six child tax credit payments hit their accounts this morning. Even though the child tax credit isn’t new, this year, eligible US families will get up to $300 a month per kid (calculate your total here) Uusally, parents have to wait until tax time to claim the child tax credit cash, but this year families are getting a portion of the money early — thanks to the most recent stimulus bill from March. The other half, totaling up to $3,600, will be included in the 2022 tax refund. But what if you didn’t get your check via direct deposit this morning? 

The IRS has an online portal to help you track your money — just like with each of the three stimulus checks and your tax refund. But if you closed a bank account or recently moved the IRS may not have your new information on file so you may get a mailed check. But you can still use the portal to see the payment processing date and update any information for the August payment. You can also use the IRS portal to correct information and make sure you and your children are eligible so you won’t have to worry about paying the IRS back. This portal is expected to help put your mind at ease or flag a problem with your child tax credit payment so you can make any changes before the next check comes.

Parents may wonder what to do if they didn’t get a check or got less than expected. Here’s what you need to know before the first payment arrives and how you’ll be able to track your money. In the meantime, we suggest thinking about how to use your child tax credit money and we’ll explain how to opt out using the IRS tool. But advanced payments are optional. If you think you’re no longer eligible or would rather get your total amount when you file your taxes next year you can use the tool to opt out for the Aug. 13 check. We’ll walk through everything you need to know to track your monthly checks going forward. We have recently updated this story. 

How was the first child tax payment sent? 

Eligible parents that have banking information on file from stimulus checks or tax refunds with the IRS should have received their money via direct deposit this morning. If the IRS doesn’t have your account information, you can submit it using the Child Tax Credit Update Portal

If money was not deposited into your bank account today, be sure to log into the portal to check the banking information the IRS has on file for you. If you didn’t add your banking information in time for July’s payment, look out for a mailed check — just as you would get with mailed tax refunds. Update your banking information before Aug. 2 for your next check to be direct deposited. The IRS recommends using direct deposit to get your money quicker. 

If you need to update your mailing address for your check, you won’t be able to do that using the Child Tax Credit Update Portal quite yet. The IRS plans to continue making updates this year so you’ll be able to update your address, income and number of kids. 

How can I track child tax credit payments online?

You can expect a monthly check to hit your bank account on the 15th of every month — except in August because the 15th falls on a Sunday. The IRS said you’ll be able to use the Child Tax Credit Update Portal to see your processed monthly payment history. Soon, the portal should show you whether or not you received a payment, and it’ll be a good way to track payments that haven’t hit your bank account yet but should have. 

It’s unknown right now if the portal will display other payment details, such as banking information, amount, the check’s processing date or what could be causing a delay in the payment. To check on your payments online, you’ll need to register with your IRS username and ID.me account information. But first-time users will need to register using a photo ID. It’s one of the ways the IRS is trying to protect your information from identity theft. 

If you’re checking your bank account to see if the money was deposited look for the deposit labeled, “CHILDCTC.” If your bank has not received the deposit from the IRS, it won’t have any processing information for you if you’re trying to locate your check. You can use the Child Tax Credit Update Portal to double-check the information the IRS has on file. Make sure there aren’t any errors, including in your account information and routing numbers. In the meantime, this payment schedule will help you keep tabs on when to expect each payment. 

Child tax credit payment schedule

Monthly  Maximum payment per child 5 and younger  Maximum payment for each child; 6 to 17
July 15 $300 $250
Aug. 13 $300 $250
Sept. 15 $300 $250
Oct. 15 $300 $250
Nov. 15 $300 $250
Dec. 15 $300 $250
April 2022: Second half of payment  $1,800 $1,500

What if I don’t see my child tax credit payment in my bank account?

Even though child tax credit payments are scheduled to arrive on certain dates, you may not get the money when expected for a few reasons. You may be going to receive a mailed check, or the payment may still be being processed for direct deposit. But if time has passed and you haven’t received your check, see if the Processed Payments section of the Child Tax Credit Update Portal has any information. If the payment was delivered, make sure your address and banking information are correct — especially if you’ve moved or changed banks.

The IRS also offers a payment trace as a way to track your money. Your check will be traceable if it has been at least five days since the deposit date and the bank hasn’t received the payment. Or four weeks since the check was mailed, or six weeks if it’s mailed to a forwarded address listed by the post office. If the check was mailed to a foreign address you can ask for a payment trace after nine weeks.

When to request a payment trace

Method of payment Time passed since IRS sent your payment
Direct deposit 5 days
Check mailed to standard address 4 weeks
Check mailed to a forwarded address 6 weeks
Check mailed to a foreign address 9 weeks

Use the Child Tax Credit Update Portal to see track your history of advanced payments. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Can I contact the IRS if I haven’t received my child tax credit payment?

If you haven’t received your child tax credit after a few days, you can try to contact the IRS. (We recommend waiting a few days past the payment date to see if your check will arrive in the mail.) The IRS has limited live assistance due to a continuing tax return backlog, along with sending out stimulus checks and unemployment tax refunds. You can find answers to frequently asked questions, check eligibility and see if you have a processed payment on the IRS website. Right now, the IRS doesn’t have a phone number for child tax credit questions. 

What happens if I unenrolled from the payments but still got a check today? 

If you or your spouse unenrolled from the child tax credit program but still got the money today, make sure you opted out in time. You’ll need to do so at least three days before the first Thursday of each month because it takes up to seven calendar days to process the request. The deadline to opt out of July’s payment has passed, but you have until Aug. 2 to opt out of the next check. 

Note that if you file jointly, each parent needs to unenroll. Otherwise, the spouse who doesn’t opt out will receive half of the joint payment.

You can use the Child Tax Credit Update Portal to check your payments online and or to opt out of the program anytime. You’ll only need to unenroll once. It’s important to note that you cannot re-enroll until late September. Here are the deadlines to unenroll.

Child tax credit opt-out deadline

Payment date Unenrollment deadline 
July 15 June 28 
Aug. 13 Aug. 2
Sept. 15 Aug. 30 
Oct. 15 Oct. 4 
Nov. 15 Nov. 1
Dec. 15 Nov. 29

What if I got less money than I expected?

If you meet all of the child tax credit eligibility requirements but track your monthly payments online 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. You can also use the IRS eligibility tool. 

The IRS said that your 2019 tax return may be used to determine your eligibility. Once the IRS processes your 2020 tax return, it will automatically adjust your advance monthly payments by increasing or decreasing how much you get. If you didn’t file your taxes, use the Child Tax Credit Non-filer Sign-up Tool to add your information and determine eligibility. It’s unclear if the IRS will make up any differences in remaining payments or if the difference will be included in next year’s tax refund. 

One reason parents may get less money is if they fall out of the income bracket for the maximum amount for monthly payments. Married couples filing jointly can earn up to $150,000 and single filers can earn up to $75,000. If you make more, the monthly check is reduced by $50 for every $1,000 over the income bracket. So, if you earn $80,000 you may only be eligible for up to $200 per month– depending on other eligibility factors. 

On the other hand, if you received more money than you’re eligible for, you may have to repay the IRS. That’s why it’s important to use the Child Tax Credit Update Portal to update your information for accurate payments and eligibility. The IRS will send a letter closer to tax time next year with a personalized amount that your family qualifies for. Hold on to this letter because you’ll need it when you file your 2021 income tax return if you need to return part of your payment.

We’ll continue to update this story with new information and tool updates for the child tax credit program and tracking your payments. Take a look at how joint child custody will impact your child tax credit payments and calculate your monthly child tax credit payments before they arrive.

Now playing:
Watch this:

Child tax credit: Everything we know