2021 child tax credit score: Payment schedule dates, opt-out deadlines and more

The first month-to-month child tax credit score fee comes July 15, with recurring checks by way of the top of 2021. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Parents who qualify for the child tax credit score can count on their first fee to reach subsequent week. Eligible households will stand up to $250 or $300 per child, relying on earnings and the dependent’s age. To assist you to put together, the IRS has a number of new assets, together with a tool to check your eligibility on-line and one other device to handle your advance funds. One of the instruments will allow you to unenroll from the monthly payment program

Do word that in case your earnings would not meet the tax-filing necessities and you by no means filed a 2019 or 2020 return, you might need to maneuver quick to both file your taxes or use the IRS nonfiler tool. Parents who’re involved that the IRS may pay an excessive amount of prematurely credit this yr, which might end in a attainable (however hopefully unusual) state of affairs of owing again cash to the tax company in 2022, can examine what the child tax credit means for the next tax season

You can begin planning forward with one other great tool: CNET’s child tax credit calculator, which supplies you a complete fee estimate based mostly on the quantity and ages of your youngsters. We’ve additionally compiled some data on how parents might want to use the money and find out how to declare as much as $16,000 more for your child care costs. This story has been up to date not too long ago.

When are all of the child tax credit score funds scheduled for?

The very first thing to know is you will not get your child tax credit score funds abruptly in 2021. Unless you inform the IRS you need to unenroll from the advance monthly payments, you will get six checks in 2021 and one in 2022. The second factor to know is that half of your complete child tax credit score fee will come this yr, with the opposite half as a part of your tax refund in 2022. 

So in different phrases, your largest single fee arrives subsequent yr. Until then, you get six smaller funds this yr to start out utilizing immediately. The concept is to convey you cash sooner, which is why the checks will begin coming in 2021 as “advance payments.”

Child tax credit score fee schedule

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

What does it imply to unenroll from the month-to-month funds this yr?

You aren’t obligated to obtain the advance month-to-month child tax credit score funds this yr. Instead, you possibly can choose to get one payment in 2022, and the brand new Child Tax Credit Update Portal will permit you to take action. You could wish to unenroll for those who’d reasonably have one giant fee for a projected expense in 2022, or for those who’re involved the IRS may overpay you this yr and you do not wish to be saddled with an impressive debt later. However, if you have not unenrolled but, the deadline to take action was June 28, so you will nonetheless get the July 15 fee. You can nonetheless decide out of the August by way of December funds.

What are the child tax credit score portals designed to do?

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 helps households rapidly decide whether or not they qualify. 

The newest Child Tax Credit Update Portal presently permits households to view their eligibility, handle their funds and unenroll from the advance month-to-month funds. It additionally now lets dad and mom replace their direct deposit data. In coming months, it’s going to permit households to replace different data if their circumstances have modified: for instance, if a brand new child has arrived or will arrive in 2021 who is not mirrored on a 2020 tax return.

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Child tax credit: Everything we know


How are the payment amounts determined for each child?

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

Will babies born before the end of December qualify?

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 when that aspect of the Update Portal is made available. 

What happens if a check doesn’t come on the scheduled day?

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, or in the form of an EIP card. If enough time has passed and you’re concerned there may be a problem, you can use the IRS web portal to correct information. You’ll also want to make sure you let the IRS know if you moved (not just the US Postal Service).

What if the IRS sends too much money in the monthly check? 

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 new Update Portal will let you make adjustments in the coming months to verify your new income and marital status. 

What should families that don’t usually file taxes do to make sure they get paid?

Payments will be automatic for those who filed their 2020 tax returns by the May 17 deadline (or those who claimed all their dependents on a 2019 tax return). But what if that’s not you? 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 IRS is offering information about free tax days in major cities to outreach to families who still need to file a 2020 return. 


The larger child tax credit can help families that have faced financial hardship due to the pandemic. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

What are the qualifying income limits for the expanded credit?

Income limits determine how much you will receive and if you even qualify, though there is no limit on the number of children you can receive credit for as long as you’re eligible. 

The amount you’ll get will phase out for people with higher incomes. Single filers earning more than $75,000 per year, heads of household earning more than $112,500 per year and married couples earning more than $150,000 a year will not be eligible for the full amount. Your child tax credit payments will begin to phase out by $50 for every $1,000 of income over those threshold amounts, according to Joanna Powell, managing director and certified financial planner at CBIZ.

Can parents who share custody of a child get the checks?

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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