Are you eligible for the monthly Child Tax Credit in 2021?

What's the Expanded Child Tax Credit?The changes to the Child Tax Credit (CTC) could mean you are eligible for the credit, even if you do not usually file a tax return.

They include monthly advance payments that the IRS will begin issuing to taxpayers on July 15, 2021. The temporary expansion of the CTC for 2021 will help people through the COVID-19 pandemic and lift millions of children out of poverty.

Review the Frequently Asked Questions below to learn more about getting the expanded CTC. In the “I need help” item at the end, you’ll find info on appointment scheduling options at our CTC clinic and other ways to reach us.

Who is eligible?

Is my child eligible? (Child Tax Credit eligibility criteria)

There is no minimum income requirement for the Child Tax Credit – this means that an individual with zero income is still eligible to receive CTC. Individuals with income higher than $75,000 will receive a reduced amount ($112,500 for Head of Household, and $150,000 for married couples).

The taxpayer (and spouse) must have either a social security number or an ITIN. You also must have a “qualifying child” to be eligible to receive CTC, and the child must have a social security number.

Who does the IRS consider a “qualifying child?”

A qualifying child for CTC could be your child, grandchild, stepchild or adopted child; younger sibling, step-sibling, half-sibling, or their descendent; or a foster child placed with you by a government agency. The child must be 17 years old or younger on 12/31/2021.

A qualifying child must be considered your dependent on your 2021 tax return. This means that they lived with you for more than 6 months throughout the year, and the child did not provide over half of their own support. Only one taxpayer can claim a child for CTC, and payments cannot be split between more than one tax return.

Are you eligible for the 2021 Child Tax Credit infographicHow much could I receive?

The maximum total amount of CTC for 2021 is $3,000 per child under 18 years old and $3,600 per child under 6 years old. This amount begins to decrease when an individual has income higher than $75,000 ($112,500 for Head of Household, and $150,000 for married couples).

The expanded CTC is for your 2021 tax return (which you file in 2022). The advance payments will give you up to half of your CTC amount in 2021. Then, you will have to claim the rest of it by filing a tax return in 2022.

When will the IRS begin issuing advance CTC payments, and what do I need to do to receive them?

The first advance CTC payments will be issued on July 15th, then on the 15th of every month until December 2021.

  • If you filed a 2019 or 2020 tax return, the IRS will automatically begin sending your payments in July based on the information on your return. The IRS is currently mailing letters to taxpayers who have already filed to notify you about the upcoming payments.
  • If you did not file a tax return and you are not required to file, you will need to use the Non-Filers tool on the IRS website to enroll. (You can find helpful tips here on how to use this tool.) This tool will gather your dependent information and let you choose how you’d like to receive your payments. If you need assistance using the non-filers tool, there is virtual help available.
  • If you did not file a 2019 or 2020 tax return and need to, click here for free tax preparation options.

How will I get my advance CTC payments?

The advance payments will use the information on your 2020 return (or 2019, if you did not file this year). The payments will be sent to the bank account you used for direct deposit or be mailed to the address on your tax return if you chose a paper check.

If your bank information has changed since filing your most recent tax return, you will be able to update your account information using the Child Tax Credit Update portal on the IRS website (see the next question).

How can I update my information with the IRS?

The IRS has created a CTC update portal which you can use to opt out of advance payments, or to update your contact information, dependent information, bank account information, and notify the IRS of changes in your income or filing status for 2021. Our partners at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities have created a guide to using the CTC update portal.

  • At this time, the portal can only be used to update bank account information, or to opt out of receiving the advance payments if, for example, you claimed a child on your last tax return who you will not be claiming in 2021.
  • The ability to update other information will be available later this year.

Looking for more information?

See our pages for information on the first and second economic impact payment, the American Rescue Plan Act and third economic impact payment, or on virtual tax preparation.

You can also view up-to-date EIP and CTC information from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

I need help.

Not sure whether you need to file a tax return, what type, or have questions about this process? Appointments are available to help file your tax return, prepare a Non-Filers form, or make updates to your payment methods or personal information.


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