IRS issues October child tax credits, gives update on delayed payments

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A U.S. Treasury check and $100 bills are seen in a file photo. (iStock/Getty Images Plus)

A U.S. Treasury check and $100 bills are seen in a file photo. (iStock/Getty Images Plus)

A “technical issue” that delayed last month’s payments for a small number of advance child tax credit recipients in September has been fixed, the IRS announced Friday as it detailed the program’s fourth monthly disbursement.

The October payment totaled about $15 billion and is expected to reach 36 million families, impacting about 61 million children, as early as Friday, federal officials said. The vast majority will be directly deposited into bank accounts.

In California, more than 4.2 million advance child tax credits were issued Friday, covering nearly 7.1 million kids, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. The total value was $1.7 billion, with the average family’s payment totaling about $416.

Eligible individuals are getting a monthly payment of up to $300 for reach child under 6 years old, and up to $250 per child between the ages of 6 and 17 under the expanded program.

To date, the IRS and the Treasury have distributed over $61 billion to eligible households between July through October, including $6.9 billion to Californians.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether any glitches were impacting payments for the October batch. September marked the second straight month where a “technical issue” delayed the child tax credit for some Americans. That one impacted less than 2% recipients.

In August, less than 15% of recipients got their money late due to a technical error, according to the IRS.

“Given the new components of this program, the IRS continues to work hard to make improvements and deliver payments timely,” the agency emphasized in a news release.

Those affected by the issue last month were primarily taxpayers who had updated their bank account and/or address information on the IRS’s child tax credit update portal, in particular married couples filing jointly where only one person made a change.

That typically results in a split payment, which for some not only caused a delay in the payment, but led to some individuals getting slightly more than the correct amount in September, the IRS explained. For those couples, each spouse will receive slightly less in their October, November and December checks to compensate for the overpayment — on average $10 to $13 per child.

Affected individuals will be provided further information in a letter from the IRS.

For those who still haven’t received child tax credit payments but believe they are eligible, they can request a trace through the IRS. However, the following time frames must be met before beginning the process:

  • Five days since the direct deposit date, provided the bank hasn’t yet received the payment 
  • Four weeks since the payment was mailed to a standard address 
  • Six weeks since the payment was mailed if the post office has a forwarding address on file for the recipient
  • Nine weeks since the payment was mailed for those with an international address

The form to initiate a trace request can be found here: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f3911.pdf

The IRS is also reminding Americans that it’s not too late for parents to sign up for the advance child tax credit payments, even if they haven’t yet filed their 2020 income tax return or — for those who don’t typically file taxes — provided their information via the the agency’s non-filers tool.

After October, two more monthly payments remain and then the last half can be claimed on the 2021 tax return. Some have already chosen to unenroll from the monthly payments and will receive a lump-sum later.

A comprehensive guide on the advance child tax credits that includes a step-by-step guide to using the non-filers sign-up tool, answers to frequently asked questions and more resources can be found at IRS.gov/childtaxcredit2021.

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