The Expanded Child Tax Credit
Important Information About the 2021 Child Tax Credit: Advance Payments, Online Tools, & More
Thanks to recent temporary changes to the federal Child Tax Credit, many more families are eligible to claim the credit and even receive advance monthly payments from the IRS.
Here’s what you should know about the expanded and enhanced Child Tax Credit.
The New Child Tax Credit (2021)
President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 into law on March 11, 2021. This was the third major COVID-related stimulus bill, which provided a third round of stimulus checks and a temporary expansion to the Child Tax Credit, among other provisions.
For tax year 2021, the Child Tax Credit is available to all households with qualifying children, regardless of income. You can claim up to $3,600 for each child under age 6, and up to $3,000 for each child between ages 6-17. The Child Tax Credit is also fully refundable for lower income families.
Advance Child Tax Credit Payments
The American Rescue Plan also allows for half of the Child Tax Credit to be paid out in advance monthly payments to eligible households. (The remaining half can be claimed on your 2021 income tax return.) Advance payments are worth up to $300/month for each child under age 6, and up to $250/month for each child between ages 6-17.
According to the IRS, to qualify for advance Child Tax Credit payments, you (and your spouse, if you filed a joint tax return) must have:
- Filed a 2019 or 2020 tax return and claimed the Child Tax Credit on your return; or
- Given the IRS your information in 2020 to receive the Economic Impact Payment (a.k.a. stimulus check) using the “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here” tool; and
- A main home in the United States for more than half the year (the 50 states and the District of Columbia) or file a joint return with a spouse who has a main home in the United States for more than half the year; and
- A qualifying child who is under age 18 at the end of 2021 and who has a valid Social Security number; and
- Made less than certain income limits.
The IRS will use the information you provided to determine if you qualify and automatically enroll you for advance payments. You do not need to take any additional action to get advance payments.
The IRS has scheduled the following dates for 2021 advance Child Tax Credit payments:
- July 15
- August 13
- September 15
- October 15
- November 15
- December 15
Monthly payments will be sent via Direct Deposit or by paper check in the mail.
Child Tax Credit: Online Tools & HelpCheck Your Eligibility for the Child Tax Credit
Use this tool to check if you’re eligible for the Child Tax Credit and if you qualify for advance payments.
You will need your tax return that you filed for 2020 (or your 2019 tax return if you haven’t filed for 2020). If you don’t have a copy of your past return, but you know your filing status and the number of qualifying children you claimed, you may be able to estimate the total income from your tax return to answer all the questions. You can use the following to make estimates:
- Income statements such as W-2s and 1099s
- Amount of any expenses or adjustments to your income
Note that you may still be able to benefit from the credit even if you aren’t working now or didn’t work in 2020.
Non-Filers: Submit Your Information
Use this tool to submit your information for the Child Tax Credit. If you aren’t required to file a tax return and haven’t given the IRS your information already, you will need to provide some basic information for this credit.
You should use this tool to report your qualifying children born before 2021 if you:
- Are not required to file a 2020 tax return, didn’t file one and don’t plan to; and
- Have a main home in the United States for more than half of the year.
Also, if you did not get the full amounts of the first and second stimulus checks, you may use this tool if you:
- Are not required to file a 2020 tax return, didn’t file and don’t plan to, and
- Want to claim the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit and get your third Economic Impact Payment.
Manage Payments for the Child Tax Credit
Use this tool to check if you’re enrolled to receive payments, un-enroll to stop getting advance payments, and provide or update your bank account information for monthly payments (starting with the next schedule payment date). Note that in the coming months, you will be able to use this tool to make other updates that affect your tax credit payments.