svetikd | E + | Getty Images

Millions of American families with children have received three monthly payments totaling $ 45 billion since July through the new improved child tax credit.

Families with eligible children have limited time to register if they didn’t receive the checks automatically, likely because they traditionally don’t file a tax return. The IRS non-filer portal will be open until October 15, according to the agency, meaning families only have one month left to use it.

“If parents haven’t received payment and are eligible, it’s not too late to sign up,” said Ashley Burnside, a policy analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy. “You can use the IRS portal, that’s still an option.”

After October, families will be able to use GetCTC.org, a website launched by Code for America in partnership with the US Treasury Department and the White House, to sign up for the loan by mid-November, according to a Treasury Department official.

More from Invest in You:
HBCUs clear student balances, cancel debt with federal funds
How families can negotiate more student grants
How to deal with money stress and keep you awake at night

Bigger checks

Families who sign up for the loan now will see larger residual payments than those they have received on a monthly basis since July when the reviews began.

That’s because the monthly cash is an advance on a 2021 tax credit that’s delivered halfway this year and the rest comes when families file their taxes next year.

The American Rescue Plan, passed in March, expanded the existing child tax credit, added monthly prepayments, and increased benefit from $ 2,000 to $ 3,000 with a $ 600 bonus for children under 6 for the 2021 tax year.

For a family with two children, ages 5 and 7 who are eligible for full credit, the amount they will receive is $ 6,600 ($ 3,000 for the 7 year old plus $ 3,600 for the 5 year old).

If they filed a tax return in 2019 or 2020 and had a direct deposit, the family received the first $ 3,300 of credit in six monthly payments of $ 550 that will run from July through December.

But if the same family traditionally fails to file taxes because they don’t earn enough, they would have to sign up to receive the monthly payments through the IRS non-filer tool. If the family missed the July payment but signed up in August – like about 1 million families – they would still get $ 3,300 before December.

“Families who did not receive payment in July or August and received their first monthly payment in September will still receive their full upfront payment for the year of up to $ 1,800 for each child under the age of 6 and up to $ 1,500 for each child aged 6 and under and 6 years 17, “the IRS said in a September 15 statement that coincides with the third monthly payment to families.

‚ÄúThis means that the total payment will be spread over four months instead of six, making each monthly payment higher. For these families, each payment is up to $ 450 per month for each child under 6 years of age and up to $ 375 per month for each child 6 to 17 years of age, “the agency said.

Every month, families who have just signed up are getting slightly higher payments as the IRS works to ensure they get the first half of the credit ahead of tax time. Those waiting to sign up through the Code for America tool in November will receive the entire first half of the balance in one check in December, according to a tax official.

Families who traditionally do not submit and register the loan can also claim any stimulus payments from the past year and a half for which they were entitled but not received.

Why families should register now

If a family does not register for the new child tax credit this year, the advance payments are missing, but can still receive the money in a lump sum next year. However, to receive the credit, they must file a 2021 tax return.

Even those who typically don’t file taxes for not making enough money can get the credit – the expanded version has been fully refundable to ensure it reaches the most vulnerable families.

However, experts say anyone with an eligible child should enroll as soon as possible, unless they belong to a family who knows they want to opt out and receive the benefit on a flat rate basis for the next year.