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Child tax credit portal glitch delayed some September payments

But despite the technical problem, IRS says still use online tool to make changes, including stopping Advance Child Tax Credit payments for the rest of the year.

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You'd think that by the time the Internal Revenue Service issued the third Advance Child Tax Credit (AdvCTC) payment, things would be automatic.

Well, you've got another think coming.

The IRS did deliver in mid-September around 35 million AdvCTC payments totaling $15 billion. But unfortunately for some eligible families, their money didn't show up on time.

The explanation was the usual one. It was a technical issue.

Yeah, I rolled my eyes, too. But then, as a computer dependent person, I can see that happening. I curse my laptop and desktop machines multiple times a day.

Still, it's annoying. And a bit scary for folks who were (and are) depending on the money, which is $300 per qualifying child younger than age 6 and $250 for eligible youngsters ages 6 through 17.

Problem with updates: Probably the most infuriating thing was that the affected AdvCTC recipients, which the IRS estimates accounted for fewer than 2 percent of those eligible for the early distributions, were folks who tried to keep the IRS up to date.

"The impacted group primarily included taxpayers who recently made an update on their bank account or address on the IRS Child Tax Credit Update Portal and affected payments to married filing jointly taxpayers where only one spouse made a bank or address change," according to an IRS statement about the missed payments.

Still, the IRS says that shouldn't discourage folks from updating their AdvCTC information electronically. Despite the technical glitch, it's still the fastest (and realistically, only) way to make changes to your early Child Tax Credit payments.

Stopping advance payments: One of those changes could be stopping the final three deliveries.

This obviously is a decision you need to make after reviewing your current financial situation, as well as your child's eligibility in 2021.

Any changes there could mean you're getting too much now in advance, since the payments are based on prior year tax info. And if you are getting excess amounts early, you might have to repay at least some of it when you file your return in 2022.

My earlier post, Some Advance Child Tax Credit payments might have to be repaid, has more on the unwelcome payback possibility.

Remember, stopping AdvCTC payments doesn't mean you forfeit any money for which you're eligible. It just changes when you get it. You can claim the remaining correct 2021 Child Tax Credit amount when you file this year's tax return next year.

So review your circumstances and, if warranted, end the payments by using, you got it, the IRS' online Child Tax Credit Update Portal.

Act now: If you find you do want to stop the October through December AdvCTC amounts, you need to do so by Oct. 4.

If you miss that deadline, you can stop the last two later. Or even just the final December AdvCTC amount. The table below shows all the remaining unenrollment deadlines to stop the upcoming payments.

Advance Child Tax Credit
Unenrollment date

Payment
Date

Oct. 4

Oct. 15

Nov. 1

Nov. 15

Nov. 29

Dec. 15

You have until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the unenrollment deadline days. Be sure to adjust for your time zone so you don't miss it.

I suggest, however, that you not push it, either by waiting until the last day or the last possible minute of that day. The IRS might encounter another glitch.

Plus, the agency notes that it could take up to seven days for it to process portal changes. So don't dawdle.

And with the next unenrollment deadline just more than a week away, I'm tapping that day, Oct. 4, as this weekend's By the Numbers figure.

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