Child Tax Credit Payment Deadline: Get Up to $1,800 Per Child If You Act Today

There's only a few hours left for people who normally don't need to file a tax return to sign up for an advance child tax credit payment.

picture of a deadline clock
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The IRS has been sending monthly child tax credit payments to millions of American families since July. However, since the payments are generally based on information taken from 2020 or 2019 federal income tax returns, people who typically aren't required to file a tax return each year may not be getting the payments (although you should be receiving payments if you used the IRS's online tool for non-filers in 2020 to sign up for a stimulus check).

The good news is that there's still time for non-filers to sign up for the final payment, which will be sent on December 15. The bad news is that the deadline for taking action is here – you only have until midnight Eastern Time tonight (November 15) to act. That means you only have a few hours left, so don't delay any further!

How Much Money Could You Get?

If you're eligible for the child tax credit and sign up in time, you'll receive a single payment from the IRS in December for one-half of the credit amount you're entitled to receive. The payment could be as much as $1,800 for each child five years old or younger, and up to $1,500 for each child 6 to 17 years of age. So, for example, if you're a non-filer with three kids ages 4, 7 and 10, and you haven't received any advance child tax credit payments yet, you could get a payment of up to $4,800 in December if you sign up before the deadline expires.

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You'll receive the other half of the credit when you file your 2021 tax return next year. Early next year, the IRS will send you a letter indicating the advance payments you received in 2021 and the number of qualifying children used to calculate the payments. Save this letter, because you'll need it when you file your 2021 return and claim the rest of your credit.

If you don't sign up and don't receive any advance payments in 2021, you can still claim the full credit on your 2021 tax return. You'll just have to wait longer to receive any money.

How Non-Filers Can Sign Up for a Child Tax Credit Payment

To sign up for the final monthly child tax credit payment, non-filers must go online and use the GetCTC tool (available in English and Spanish). The tool was developed for the IRS by Code for American, which is a non-profit organization.

To complete the process, you'll need:

  • Social Security numbers for your children and Social Security Numbers (or ITIN) for you and your spouse;
  • A reliable mailing address;
  • E-mail address or phone number; and
  • Your bank account information (if you want to receive your payment by direct deposit).

Since the advance child tax credit payments don't count as "income," signing up won't affect your eligibility for SNAP, WIC, or other federal benefits.

Will There Be More Monthly Payments in 2022?

It's too early to tell if monthly child tax credit payments will be available in 2022. If enacted, President Biden's latest social spending and tax bill, which is currently before Congress, would extend the advance payments (and other child tax credit enhancements) for one additional year. But we don't know yet if that bill will pass. The child tax credit provisions could also be modified or taken out of the bill before passage. So, we just don't know yet if monthly payments will be sent next year.

Rocky Mengle

Rocky Mengle was a Senior Tax Editor for Kiplinger from October 2018 to January 2023 with more than 20 years of experience covering federal and state tax developments. Before coming to Kiplinger, Rocky worked for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting, and Kleinrock Publishing, where he provided breaking news and guidance for CPAs, tax attorneys, and other tax professionals. He has also been quoted as an expert by USA Today, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Reuters, Accounting Today, and other media outlets. Rocky holds a law degree from the University of Connecticut and a B.A. in History from Salisbury University.