Important Changes to the Child Tax Credit
2021 Child Tax Credit: Expanded Eligibility, Advance Payments, and More

The Child Tax Credit (CTC) has undergone a number of temporary changes, thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act. For 2021 only, the Child Tax Credit has been expanded and made advanceable.

The Child Tax Credit (CTC)

Note that the Child Tax Credit was originally a partially-refundable credit that provided qualified taxpayers with up to $2,000 per dependent child (under age 17). Eligibility to claim the credit phased out for higher income earners. Low-income households could get up to $1,400 of the credit refunded.

The American Rescue Plan created a provision allowing families to claim the Child Tax Credit regardless of their income level. It also raises the maximum amount of the credit to $3,600 for each young child (under age 6) and $3,000 for each older child (between ages 6-17). Furthermore, the tax credit has been made fully refundable for low-income families.

Advance Child Tax Credit Payments

Among the changes to the Child Tax Credit includes advance monthly payments to eligible families, starting in the summer of 2021. Half the total CTC amount is being paid in advance monthly payments. You can claim the other half when you file your 2021 federal income tax return.

Advance payments are sent automatically to eligible people. You do not need to take any action if the IRS has your tax information.

In most cases, the IRS calculates the monthly payment based on a person's 2020 tax return. If that tax return is not available because it has not yet been filed or is still being processed, the IRS will determine the initial payment amounts using the 2019 return. If an eligible taxpayer did not file for 2019 or 2020, they may use a new online Non-filer Sign-up tool to register for the monthly Advance Child Tax Credit payments (see below for more information).

The dates for the Advance Child Tax Credit payments are: July 15, August 13, September 15, October 15, November 15, and December 15 of 2021. To make sure families have easy access to their money, the IRS will issue these payments by Direct Deposit, as long as correct banking information has been provided to the IRS. Otherwise, eligible people should watch their mail starting on July 15 for their mailed payment.

To qualify for advance payments of the CTC, you (and your spouse, if you file 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) with the "Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here" online tool, or
  • Given the IRS your information in 2021 with the "Non-Filer: Submit Your Information tool"; and
  • Lived in a main home in the United States for more than half the year (the 50 states and the District of Columbia) or filed 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.

Child Tax Credit: IRS Online Tools

The IRS provides several online tools to help families with the Child Tax Credit.

Check If You're Eligible for Advance Child Tax Credit Payments

Advance Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant

Use this tool to see if you qualify for advance monthly payments of the Child Tax Credit.

Non-Filers: Submit Your Information to the IRS

Child Tax Credit Non-Filer Sign-Up Tool

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 the Child Tax Credit.

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 Economic Impact Payment, 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 Your Child Tax Credit Payments

Child Tax Credit Update Portal

Use this tool to:

  • Check if you're enrolled for advance payments
  • Un-enroll from advance payments
  • Update your bank account and mailing address
  • View your payments

Note that in the coming months, you will be able to make other updates that affect your CTC payment.