Child tax credit checks: Parents sharing child custody need to know this

Approximately 90% of youngsters within the US will profit from the elevated funds. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

For mother and father of a child who qualifies for the child tax credit, your first first verify ought to arrive July 15 and run via the tip of 2021 — except you opt out of the monthly checks via the IRS portals by Aug. 2. But what occurs should you share joint custody of your child? Does the IRS ship every guardian their very own child tax credit fee?

Parents who share custody of a child have some guidelines — together with who’s eligible for a payment. For instance, as a guardian, you can obtain a total of up to $3,600 for every kid under age 18, and babies born during this year are eligible. Also, mother and father who pay little to no federal tax will get the complete quantity they qualify for, whereas up to now, lower-income households have been excluded. 

There are additionally requirements your dependents must meet and limits on the cash you get based mostly in your adjusted gross income. As a guardian, you must also know that you can get money back for child care expenses — up to $16,000. And, if you have not but acquired your current stimulus fee, you may want to know when to expect it and the way to track it. Plus, listed below are the states providing a return-to-work bonus to fill jobs.

1. In a shared-custody state of affairs, can each mother and father get the month-to-month fee?

With the first two stimulus checks, mother and father who weren’t married however shared joint custody of a child could each receive a payment for the same child if they’d been alternating years claiming the child on their taxes. With the newest stimulus package deal, Congress closed off that loophole for the third stimulus checks. 

Can mother and father who share custody of a child make the most of the same loophole with the brand new momentary tax credit? No, stated Elaine Maag, a principal analysis affiliate with the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. Only one guardian can declare the credit for a given child, Maag instructed us. And should you incorrectly declare a child this 12 months, you might have to repay all or a part of the fee subsequent 12 months.

Repaying any child tax credit overpayment is a departure from how the stimulus checks have been dealt with. Typically, should you acquired an overpayment, you do not need to ship it again. (Here are conditions the place you’d need to return a stimulus check payment to the IRS.)

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2. Will the child tax credit money be used to pay overdue child support?

According to the Congressional Research Service — Congress’ public policy research institute — the new law exempts the periodic child tax credit payments going out this year from offset for past-due child support. However, the amount you claim as a credit on your 2021 tax returns in 2022 could be subject to offset, CRS said, similar to how stimulus payments claimed as a recovery rebate credit could be redirected to cover an overdue debt.

3. How will the new child tax credit work?

Before the changes this year with the American Rescue Plan, eligible families could claim a tax credit for their qualified children when they filed their taxes. The credit would reduce the amount of taxes they owed. That payment rule, however, excluded lower-income families who didn’t owe federal taxes and wouldn’t benefit from a tax saving with the credit. 

With the new law, the credit is “fully refundable,” so qualifying families will receive the full dollar amount even if they don’t owe income taxes. Families will receive half the credit this year through period payments starting in July and the second half of the credit in 2022 when they file their 2021 taxes during next year’s tax season. If instead, you’d rather get one check, the IRS will let you choose to receive the full payment next year when you file. Here are more details on how the child tax credit payments will work.


Some 39 million households automatically qualify to receive monthly child tax credit checks. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

4. What are the eligibility requirements for the new child tax credit?

The American Rescue Plan temporarily expands the child tax credit from $2,000 per child 16 years old and younger to $3,600 for children age 5 and younger and to $3,000 for children age 17 and younger. If you’ve got dependents between the ages of 18 and 24 who are enrolled in college full-time, you can receive $500 each for them, too. 

There are income limits and phase-out rules. If your adjusted gross income is $75,000 or less, single taxpayer parents will qualify for the full child tax credit amount, but that amount changes with incomes greater than $75,000.

The temporary expansion also makes the credit available to families in all US territories. Previously, the refundable credit was available to families in the US states, Guam, the Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico.

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5. How much money can each family get in total?

Over 90% of all families with children — from lowest to highest qualifying incomes — will receive an average benefit of $4,380, according to the Tax Policy Center. Half the amount will go out this year periodically, starting this summer in roughly equivalent payments, and the second half next year when you file your taxes. Calculate your payment total here.

For more information on other money you might be owed, here’s how to estimate your third stimulus check, how to track your payment and what we currently know about a possible fourth stimulus check.

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