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Final deadline to sign up for monthly child tax credit payments passes

Many low-income families eligible for the monthly child tax credit payments had not signed up to receive them.

A deadline for low-income families who are eligible for the monthly advance child tax credit but were not yet signed up has passed. This means those who did not sign up in time won't be able to receive any money from the monthly payments this year. But they'll still be able to collect the entire amount at tax time in 2022.

The credit is $3,600 annually for children under age 6 and $3,000 for children ages 6 to 17. Half of that money was available this year through monthly payments that started in July. The rest will come at tax time next year.

Tens of millions of eligible families were automatically enrolled to the monthly payments — with the option to opt out — based on their 2020 tax returns. But others, particularly those whose incomes in 2020 were so low that they were not required to file returns, had to sign up with the IRS. That's generally individuals who made less than $12,400 or married couples who made less than $24,800 in 2020.

Many of those people may have not received word about the payments or aren't aware they have to sign up. That can include hundreds of thousands of Americans without permanent housing or contact information with the IRS.

Monday, Nov. 15 at 11:59 p.m. ET was the deadline for low-income families to sign up for the advance payments using this online tool. The IRS said those who registered by the deadline could get all the money they were owed this year in one payment on Dec. 15. That means a family with two children could have received anywhere from $3,000 to $3,600 in one shot.

One of the reasons cited for enacting the monthly payments was to reduce poverty, with one study estimating it could cut child poverty by 45%. The idea was that rather than get the money in one lump sum at tax time, parents would get the money as they needed it for things like food, clothing, diapers and child care.

Monday was also the day people who are already signed up for the child tax credit were to receive their November payment, although some payments that are being mailed out could take a few days to arrive.

There is one more deadline coming up regarding child tax credit payments. Nov. 29 is the last day to register income, banking and address changes to the IRS for the Dec. 15 payment, or to opt out of that payment.

Child tax credit extension to 2022 in limbo

The monthly child tax credit payments are set to expire following the final payment on Dec. 15. A one-year extension of the credit is part of the Build Back Better social program bill under consideration by Congress. But a vote on that bill, which has been the subject of intra-party battles between progressive and more fiscally conservative Democrats, is on hold until at least this week.