By Brian New

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – While tens of millions of families will receive their second monthly child tax credit payment this week, an estimated four million eligible families are at risk of missing out on the money, according to IRS data.

For most, the monthly payment of $250 per child ages 6 to 17 and $300 per child under the age of 6 will automatically be deposited into their bank account.

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However, a CBS 11 I-Team analysis of federal data found that thousands of North Texas children have not been claimed on tax returns by their parents and thus are at risk of missing out the advanced tax credit.

In the 75217 zip code in southeast Dallas County, at least 581 kids are missing from tax returns.

This is an area where the average household income is less than $30,000. This enhanced child tax credit for a family with three young kids under the age of 6 would significantly increase their income by more than $10,000.

“This is a large amount of money and it can mean so much for so many families,” said Roxy Caines with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Especially for many low-income families, these enhanced child tax credit payments will not only help with immediate needs, like food and clothes, but Caines said research shows it can have long-term impact.

“There’s been research on other tax credits, specifically the benefits of the Earned Income Tax Credit, and long term we see that families that get this tax credit the children will do better and thrive more as adults.”

But they won’t get the money if they don’t file a tax return or sign-up on the IRS website.

The highest number of families in North Texas at risk of missing out on the child tax credit, according to IRS data, is in the 75070 zip code in McKinney where more than 700 kids are missing from existing tax returns.

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The highest number of kids at risk of missing out in Tarrant County is in the 76244 zip code where more than 600 kids were missed.

These estimates are based on a U.S. Treasury Department data of children covered by health insurance who don’t appear on tax returns.

Organizations, like the United Way of Dallas, are trying to bridge the gap.

Greg Mangun, vice president of economic mobility with the United Way of Dallas, said many families, who are not yet receiving these payments, don’t have reliable internet or an email account to sign-up. Many also don’t have a bank account to have the payments directly deposited.

“But I think the even bigger issue is folks either just don’t know about it or don’t think they qualify,” Mangum said. “They think they’re too poor or just because they haven’t filed taxes, they’re not eligible which, of course, is not the case”

According to IRS data, an estimated $1.2 billion should be going to eligible Texas families who are currently not signed up.

To sign up for the payments, go to www.ChildTaxCredit.gov. All you need to apply is a reliable mailing address, an email address, social security numbers for your children, and social security numbers for you and your spouse.

Most families will get this tax relief automatically if they filed tax returns for 2019 or 2020, or if they received a stimulus check.

Local help is available if you need to file past tax returns or need assistance in signing up with the IRS.

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You can find a list of tax preparation and financial coaches on United Way’s financial resources page.