2021 child tax credit FAQ: All the things you need to know (however didn’t ask)

Half of the child tax credit is paid upfront via month-to-month installments till the finish of 2021. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

The IRS and the Department of the Treasury has now despatched greater than $15 billion to families that qualify for the expanded child tax credit, impacting practically 60 million kids. The majority of US households obtained their first month-to-month installment — up to $300 a month for every child below age 6, and up to $250 a month for every one ages 6 to 17 — via direct deposit. President Joe Biden praised the child tax credit as a historic effort “to make another giant step toward ending child poverty in America.” 

If you acquired your first cost (or are ready nonetheless ready for it to arrive — it takes extra time for paper checks to come by mail), you would possibly nonetheless have questions about the money, together with if you received the correct amount. We’ve been overlaying all the bases to assist you work out if you ought to opt out of the month-to-month cost program, how the credit will affect your 2022 taxes and the way to handle your funds via the IRS portals

Feeling harassed by child tax credit information and figures? This FAQ ought to assist. We’ve additionally compiled some info on how parents might want to use the money and the way to declare up to $16,000 more for child care costs, rather more than you might in earlier years. This story is up to date on a frequent foundation.

What’s the 2021 child tax credit cost schedule?

The very first thing to know is you will not get your child tax credit funds unexpectedly in 2021. Unless you inform the IRS you need to unenroll from the advance monthly payments, you’ll get six checks in 2021 and one in 2022. The second factor to know is that half of your complete child tax credit cost will come this 12 months via these month-to-month funds, with the different half coming in a single lump sum as a part of your tax refund in 2022. 

So in different phrases, your largest cost arrives subsequent 12 months. Until then, you get six smaller funds this 12 months to begin utilizing immediately. The thought is to carry you cash sooner to meet bills like hire, meals and daycare, which is why the checks are available in 2021 as “advance payments.”

Child tax credit cost schedule

Monthly Maximum cost per child 5 and youthful Maximum cost per child; 6 to 17
July 15: First 2021 examine $300 $250
Aug. 13 $300 $250
Sept. 15 $300 $250
Oct. 15 $300 $250
Nov. 15 $300 $250
Dec. 15: Last 2021 examine $300 $250
April 2022: Second half of cost $1,800 $1,500

How can I decide out of the advance month-to-month funds?

You do not have to obtain the advance month-to-month child tax credit funds this 12 months. Instead, you can select to get one cost in 2022, and the IRS Child Tax Credit Update Portal will enable you to achieve this. You might want to unenroll if you’d reasonably have one massive cost for a projected expense in 2022, or if you’re involved the IRS would possibly overpay you this 12 months and you don’t need to be saddled with an impressive debt later. 

To cease advance checks, the IRS says you should unenroll three days earlier than the first Thursday of the following month. See the chart beneath for deadlines. Once you unenroll on this 12 months’s advance funds, you cannot but reenroll, although the IRS says it can make a re-enrollment possibility obtainable later. Also word that for {couples} who’re married and submitting collectively, every mum or dad should unenroll individually. It is just too late to decide out of the July cost, however you can unenroll for the remainder of the month-to-month funds.

Child tax credit cost unenrollment dates

Payment month Unenrollment deadline Payment date
July June 28 July 15
August Aug. 2 Aug. 13
September Aug. 30 Sept. 15
October Oct. 4 Oct. 15
November Nov. 1 Nov. 15
December Nov. 29 Dec. 15

What are the child tax credit on-line portals for precisely? 

In June, the IRS opened more online tools and portals. The first portal is for individuals not normally required to file an earnings tax return, together with low-income households. And the Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant device — obtainable in English and now in Spanish — helps households shortly decide whether or not they qualify. 

The newest Child Tax Credit Update Portal at present permits households to view their eligibility, handle their funds and unenroll from the advance month-to-month funds. It additionally now lets mother and father replace their direct deposit info. In the coming months, it can enable households to replace different info if their circumstances have modified, resembling mailing tackle, marital standing, earnings or dependents — for instance, if a brand new child has arrived or will arrive in 2021 and is not mirrored on a 2020 tax return.

This useful IRS PDF additionally describes what the portals do. 

Does my household earn too little or an excessive amount of to qualify?

Income limits decide how a lot you will obtain and if you even qualify, although there isn’t any restrict on the variety of kids you can obtain credit for so long as you’re eligible. 

Single filers incomes lower than $75,000 per 12 months, heads of family incomes lower than $112,500 per 12 months and married {couples} incomes lower than $150,000 a 12 months will probably be eligible for the full quantity. 

The quantity you’ll get will then section out for higher incomes. Your child tax credit funds will section out by $50 for each $1,000 of earnings over these threshold quantities, in accordance to Joanna Powell, managing director and licensed monetary planner at CBIZ. In different phrases, your loved ones might nonetheless obtain some cash above these earnings limits, however it will not be for the most cost. 

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How much money can each of my dependents qualify for? 

How the child tax credit payments will be divided between 2021 and 2022 might be confusing. For each qualifying child age 5 and younger, up to $1,800 (half the total) will come in six $300 monthly payments this year. For each kid between the ages of 6 and 17, up to $1,500 will come as $250 monthly payments six times this year. 

The IRS bases your child’s eligibility on their age on Dec. 31, 2021, so a 5-year-old child turning 6 in 2021 will qualify for a maximum of $250 per month. For both age groups, the rest of the payment will come with your 2021 tax refund when you claim the remainder of the credit in 2022. 

If you have a dependent who is 18 years old, they can qualify for $500 each. Dependents between the ages of 19 and 24 may qualify as well, but they must be enrolled in college full time. Here’s more on the financial details for qualified dependents

2021 child tax credit maximum payments

Ages 5 and younger Up to $3,600, with half as $300 advance monthly payments
Ages 6 to 17 Up to $3,000, with half as $250 advance monthly payments
Age 18 $500 one-time check
Ages 19 and 24, full-time college students $500 one-time check

Is my newborn baby covered for an advance payment?

If you have a baby in 2021, your newborn will count toward the child tax credit payment of $3,600. Children who are adopted can also qualify if they’re US citizens. You’ll be able to update the IRS on a new dependent once that aspect of the Update Portal is available. 

What if I don’t receive a payment when it’s scheduled?

One thing to keep in mind is that the IRS is targeting the payment dates (see above). If you have direct deposit set up with the IRS, you might see a pending payment before the actual closing date. That means you might not be able to access the money right away, but that it’s in process.

It could take longer for your payment to arrive if you’re receiving the check by mail. If enough time has passed and you’re concerned there may be a problem, you can use the IRS Update Portal to correct your direct deposit information. You can also file an IRS payment trace if you’re worried. Check here for more information about missing payments

What if the IRS sends an overpayment? Will I pay it back?

Since the IRS uses your 2019 or 2020 tax return, your family may not qualify for the child tax credit payment when you file your 2021 tax return in 2022. In this case, you may have to repay the IRS some or all of the credit. The child tax credit rules aren’t as flexible as the stimulus check rules regarding overpayment. One example of when this would happen is if you and the other parent of your child (who is not your spouse) were both paid for the child tax credit for the same dependent.

To avoid this tax inconvenience, make sure all your information is updated before the payments start arriving. The Update Portal will let you make adjustments in the coming months to verify your new income and marital status. 

What if I don’t file taxes? Can I still get a payment?

Payments will be automatic for those who filed their 2020 tax returns by the May 17 deadline (or those who claimed all dependents on a 2019 tax return). Parents who didn’t file taxes should use the new IRS tool, called the “Non-filer Sign-up tool,” to get their money, even if you’re not usually required to file. This will let the IRS know your income level and how many dependents are in your household who count toward the child tax credit benefits. 

You could also file a tax return to get the full monthly child tax credit payment you’re owed. 


The child tax credit payments this summer can help families facing financial hardship due to the pandemic. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

If I have joint custody of a child, how do payments work?

For the first two stimulus checks, some parents who shared custody of a child but weren’t married to each other were entitled to each claim money for the same child. That was only if they alternated years for claiming the dependent — in other words, if one parent claimed the child on their taxes in odd years and the other claimed the child on their taxes in even years.

This is no longer allowed for the third check, and we’re told it won’t work that way for the child tax credit payments either. Here’s what we know so far about the child tax credit and shared custody situations.

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