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Why is my child tax credit less this month?

The IRS explained Friday why some September child tax credit payments may be less and why some payments went out late.

The IRS said Friday that a "technical issue" prevented some eligible Americans from receiving the Sept. 15 advance child tax credit payment on time, but that the payments should arrive soon.

The agency said in a statement that it estimates fewer than 2% of eligible recipients didn't get their payment as scheduled last week. It said this was primarily people who recently updated their bank account information or address at Child Tax Credit Update Portal online.

The IRS also said the problem affected payments to taxpayers who are married and file jointly, but only one spouse made a bank account or address change.

"These individuals will receive their payments as early as Friday by direct deposit or in the coming days for those receiving checks by mail," the IRS said.

    

Why is my child tax credit less this month?

One of the questions multiple people were asking on Google Friday is why their September child tax credit payment was less. The IRS was apparently aware and addressed it in the same statement.

"There are multiple reasons why people may be seeing a different amount than they expected," the IRS said. "If only one spouse changed an address or bank account, the other spouse’s half could be going to the old address or bank account. In these instances, the full payment will still be distributed."

The agency said if a tax return was recently processed, that could also change the amount received. The credit goes out to eligible Americans who filed a 2019 or 2020 tax return or those who aren't required to file a return but used the online non-filers tool.

"We encourage people to check the IRS CTC Update Portal for the latest payment information," the IRS said.

The deadline to go online and opt out of the October 15 payment is 11:59 p.m. ET on Oct. 4.

What is the child tax credit?

The credit is $3,600 annually for children under age 6 and $3,000 for children ages 6 to 17. Eligible families who do not opt-out will receive $300 monthly for each child under 6 and $250 per older child. 

The benefits begin to phase out at incomes of $75,000 for individuals, $112,500 for heads of household and $150,000 for married couples. Families with incomes up to $200,000 for individuals and $400,000 for married couples can still receive the previous $2,000 credit.

In the past, eligible families got a credit after filing their taxes — either as a lump-sum payment or a credit against taxes owed. But now six months of payments are being advanced monthly through the end of the year. A recipient receives the second half when they file their taxes.

The expanded child tax credit, which was passed as part of the American Rescue Plan COVID relief bill in March, is set to lapse after a year, though President Joe Biden has proposed extending it through 2025 and would like it to be made permanent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.