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ATLANTA — Angry parents have contacted CNN, taken to Twitter and posted to other online sites complaining that they did not receive the money on Sept. 15 as expected. Eligible families can get up to $300 for each child up to age 6 and up to $250 for each one age 6 to 17.
The agency, which distributed $15 billion in credits to about 35 million families last week, acknowledged Friday that "some individuals" had yet to receive their September payments, though they were sent ones for July and August. It also noted that these parents may not be able to see the status of the payment on the IRS' child tax credit portal.
The August distribution, however, also didn't go that smoothly. The agency said last month that some families — fewer than 15% — who received a direct deposit in July were mailed paper checks for August. But it is expected to have the problem resolved in time for the September batch.
The IRS, which acknowledged Friday that it was looking into the situation, did not immediately provide CNN with an update on Tuesday.
'Budgeting penny to penny'
John Belfiore, a father of two teen boys, is getting antsy. He lost his job as a telemarketer for a finance company in February after contracting COVID-19 and spending eight days on a ventilator. The monthly child tax credit payments of $500, along with the pandemic unemployment benefits, were helping keep his family of four afloat.
But now that the enhanced unemployment benefits have ended, the child tax credit has become even more important for the Lake Forest, California, family. They received the funds for July and August via direct deposit, but the IRS portal says nothing about the September payment.
"I'm budgeting penny to penny," said Belfiore, who tried to call the agency but hung up after waiting on hold for an hour. "The $500 gives me gas money to get to interviews and keep the lights on."
Who qualifies for the tax credit?
Created by the Democrats' $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package in March, the full enhanced credit is available for heads of households earning up to $112,500 a year and joint filers making up to $150,000, after which it begins to phase out.
For many families, the credit then plateaus at $2,000 per child and starts to phase out for single parents earning more than $200,000 or for married couples with incomes above $400,000.
More low-income parents are eligible for the child tax credit because the relief package made it fully refundable. It had been only partially refundable — leaving more than 26 million children unable to get the full credit because their families' incomes were too low, according to Treasury Department estimates.
About half of Black and Latino children, as well as kids living in rural communities, received only a partial credit or no credit at all because their families' incomes were too low prior to the enhancement, said the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The provision means that a single mother with a toddler and a second-grader who earns $12,000 a year would see her credit increase to $6,600 for 2021, up from about $1,425, according to the center.
The Democrats' $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill seeks to make the credit fully refundable permanently.
Parents who aren't citizens can receive the payments for their citizen children as long as they have individual taxpayer-identification numbers and their children have Social Security numbers.
Families can check their eligibility through this IRS website.
How do the payments arrive?
The vast majority of families get the credit automatically because they filed 2019 or 2020 returns claiming the credit.
The IRS also sends the payments to Americans who previously used its non-filer portal to register for the stimulus checks.
But families who haven't filed tax returns recently or used the non-filer tool must take action. They can use another IRS portal to register to receive the enhanced child tax credit. The sign-up tool allows users to provide the necessary information about their households and, if they choose, their bank accounts so the agency can directly deposit the funds.
Parents can also go to GetCTC.org to file simplified returns and claim the enhanced credit. The site was developed by the non-profit Code for America, in collaboration with the White House and the Treasury Department. It is available in English and Spanish.
The IRS portal has been criticized because the tool is only in English and does not work well on cellphones.