(WFSB) - Millions of Americans who struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic will have more money in the bank.
The first payments from the expanded child tax credit began being distributed on Thursday.
The Internal Revenue Service will be sending out hundreds of millions of dollars and it's easy to figure out exactly how much a family will receive.
Monthly payments include up to $300 per child under the age of 6 and up to $250 per child under age 18.
It’s part of the massive COVID relief package signed by President Joe Biden in March.
Households that filed a 2020 or 2019 federal income tax return and claimed the regular child tax credit will automatically get payments.
The Internal Revenue Service is hoping to reach millions more low-income families as it starts to roll out the massive expansion of the child tax credit this week.
Families are eligible even if they didn't meet the income threshold to file.
"If you have a child living in your home for more than half the year, it's also important that as long as the child has a social security number, you are eligible for the child tax credit,” said Robin McKinney, CASH Campaign of Maryland CEO and co-founder.
The IRS and groups that help low-income families are working to get that word out, first pointing to the website irs.gov.
"Those families that traditionally have not filed a tax form can just go online, enter their information,” said Joseph Leitmann-Santa Cruz, Capital Area Asset Builders executive director & CEO. “It's just basic information, who you are, where you live, how old are your children."
Basically, for every $300 payment qualified for means parents will receive about $3,600 over the course of the year.
"Most who are taking advantage of it are low income taxpayers and they could use this money to help pay for their groceries - their rent,” said Matthew Maron, Quinnipiac University tax professor.
He said the tax credit is good for those who need money now, but there are income guidelines. Single filers earning $75,000, and joint filers making $150,000 will get reduced payments.
Families can have checks mailed to their home or directly deposited into their bank accounts. There will be a total of six checks this year and no payment next year.
However, whatever money you get now will directly affect how much of a refund you get next year on your taxes.
"What may happen is you definitely will have your refund reduced, if you will. Or in some situations, you can actually have a balance due if you have too much advance child tax credit payments than what you are entitled to,” Maron said.
He added that some families may want to opt out.
To do that, you need to go to the IRS website, specifically the child tax credit update portal. To stop advance checks, you must unenroll three days before the first Thursday of the following month.
To opt out, you must unenroll because many families will be automatically be enrolled in the system.
Especially those who may have received tax credit last year.
Also, if you have a child who recently turned 18, you may also need to unenroll.