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Where's my child tax credit? Why your payment may be arriving later

Tens of millions of advance child tax credit payments have been sent out for August. But some who expected a direct deposit will have to wait for a mailed check.

WASHINGTON — Some families who are expecting to receive their second installment of the monthly advance child tax credit via direct deposit will instead have to wait on a check in the mail, according to the U.S. Department of Treasury.

The Biden administration announced Friday more than $15 billion worth of payments, covering roughly 61 million eligible children, has been disbursed. 

The child tax credit is $3,600 annually for children under age 6 and $3,000 for children ages 6 to 17. Eligible families will receive $300 monthly for each child under 6 and $250 per older child.The payments are happening each month on the 15th through December, but because August 15 falls on a weekend payments were moved up to Friday.

The majority of families are receiving the August payments by direct deposit. However, the Department of Treasury said "a small percentage of recipients - less than 15 percent" who got direct deposit payments in July will be mailed paper checks for August due to a "technical issue." 

Treasury said they expect the technical issue to be resolved before September payments go out next month. The department said anyone can visit the Child Tax Credit Update Portal to see if they're receiving a direct deposit or a paper check this month.

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Will I get a check or direct deposit for the child tax credit?

Anyone can visit the Child Tax Credit Update Portal to see if they're receiving a direct deposit or a paper check this month.

How much are the child tax credits?

The credit is $3,600 annually for children under age 6 and $3,000 for children ages 6 to 17. Eligible families will receive $300 monthly for each child under 6 and $250 per older child.

Who qualifies for the child tax credits?

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.

When are the payments sent out?

The first payment went out on July 15, for those with eligible children who did not opt-out. The payments will happen each month on the 15th through December. But August 15 falls on a weekend, so payments are being moved up a couple of days.

The payments are going out to tens of millions of Americans, so don't be surprised if it takes a day or two to show up.

Credit: Jeff McCollough - stock.adobe.com

What are the benefits of the monthly payments?

Advocates argue the monthly payments make more sense for low-income families.

“One of the problems with the big check in a year, if your car broke six months before, that is a long time to wait,” said Michael Reinke, executive director of the Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter, which serves many families making less than $26,000 a year.

“When people have money over a consistent period of time, it's easier to make sure it's going to the expenses you really need,” he said. “Sometimes, if you get it all at once, it's hard to budget.”

If all the money goes out, the expectation is that could significantly reduce poverty — with one study estimating it could cut child poverty by 45%.

The payments are also a test case of sorts. President Joe Biden ultimately would like to make them permanent — and the impact they have could go a long way to shaping that debate this year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.