IRS announces two new online tools to help families manage Child Tax Credit payments
Important changes to the Child Tax Credit will help many families get advance payments of the credit starting this summer. The IRS will pay half the total credit amount in advance monthly payments beginning July 15. You will claim the other half when you file your 2021 income tax return. These changes apply to tax year 2021 only.
To qualify for advance Child Tax Credit payments, you — and your spouse, if you filed a joint return — must have:
- Filed a 2019 or 2020 tax return and claimed the Child Tax Credit on the return; or
- Given us your information in 2020 to receive the Economic Impact Payment 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.
We’ll use information you provided earlier 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.
For more information visit irs.gov.
Advance Child Tax Credit Payments in 2021
The Internal Revenue Service today launched two new online tools designed to help families manage and monitor the advance monthly payments of Child Tax Credits under the American Rescue Plan. These two new tools are in addition to the Non-filer Sign-up Tool, announced last week, which helps families not normally required to file an income tax return to quickly register for the Child Tax Credit.
The new Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant allows families to answer a series of questions to quickly determine whether they qualify for the advance credit.
The Child Tax Credit Update Portal allows families to verify their eligibility for the payments and if they choose to, unenroll, or opt out from receiving the monthly payments so they can receive a lump sum when they file their tax return next year. This secure, password-protected tool is available to any eligible family with internet access and a smart phone or computer. Future versions of the tool planned in the summer and fall will allow people to view their payment history, adjust bank account information or mailing addresses and other features. A Spanish version is also planned.
Both the Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant and Child Tax Credit Update Portal are available now on IRS.gov.
The American Rescue plan increased the maximum Child Tax Credit amount in 2021 to $3,600 per child for children under the age of 6 and to $3,000 per child for children ages 6 through 17. The advance Child Tax Credit payments, which will generally be made on the 15th of each month, create financial certainty for families to plan their budgets. Eligible families will receive a payment of up to $300 per month for each child under age 6, and up to $250 per month for each child ages 6 through 17. The first monthly payment of the expanded and newly-advanceable Child Tax Credit will be made on July 15. Most families will begin receiving monthly payments automatically next month without any further action required.
“IRS employees continue to work hard to help people receive this important credit,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said. “The Update Portal is a key piece among the three new tools now available on IRS.gov to help families understand, register for and monitor these payments. We will be working across the nation with partner groups to share information and help eligible people receive the advance payments.”
More features coming to the Update Portal soon
Coming soon, families will be able to use the Child Tax Credit Update Portal to check the status of their payments. In late June, people will be able to update their bank account information for payments starting in August. In early August, a feature is planned that will allow people to update their mailing address. Then, in future updates planned for this summer and fall, they will be able to use this tool for things like updating family status and changes in income.
For more information see the FAQs, which will continue to be updated.
Update Portal allows people to unenroll
Instead of receiving these advance payments, some families may prefer to wait until the end of the year and receive the entire credit as a refund when they file their 2021 return. In this first release of the tool, the Child Tax Credit Update Portal now enables these families to quickly and easily unenroll from receiving monthly payments.
The unenroll feature can also be helpful to any family that no longer qualifies for the Child Tax Credit or believes they will not qualify when they file their 2021 return. This could happen if, for example:
- Their income in 2021 is too high to qualify them for the credit.
- Someone else (an ex-spouse or another family member, for example) qualifies to claim their child or children as dependents in 2021.
- Their main home was outside of the United States for more than half of 2021.
Accessing the Update Portal
To access the Child Tax Credit Update Portal, a person must first verify their identity. If a person has an existing IRS username or an ID.me account with a verified identity, they can use those accounts to easily sign in. People without an existing account will be asked to verify their identity with a form of photo identification using ID.me, a trusted third party for the IRS. Identity verification is an important safeguard and will protect your account from identity theft.
Anyone who lacks internet access or otherwise cannot use the online tool may unenroll by contacting the IRS at the phone number included in your outreach letter.
Who is getting a monthly payment
In general, monthly payments will go to eligible families who:
- Filed either a 2019 or 2020 federal income tax return.
- Used the Non-Filers tool on IRS.gov in 2020 to register for an Economic Impact Payment.
- Registered for the advance Child Tax Credit this year using the new Non-Filer Sign-up Tool on IRS.gov.
An eligible family who took any of these steps does not need to do anything else to get their payments.
Normally, the IRS will calculate the advance payment based on the 2020 income tax return. If that return is not available, either because it has not yet been filed or it has not yet been processed, the IRS is instead determining the payment using the 2019 tax return.
Eligible families will receive advance payments, either by direct deposit or check. Each payment will be up to $300 per month for each child under age 6 and up to $250 per month for each child ages 6 through 17. The IRS will issue advance Child Tax Credit payments on these dates: July 15, August 13, September 15, October 15, November 15 and December 15.
The IRS urges any family who hasn’t yet filed their 2020 return – or 2019 return – to do so as soon as possible so they can receive any advance payment they’re eligible for. At the same time, the agency cautions that tax returns must be processed by June 28 to be reflected in the first batch of monthly payments scheduled for July 15, so eligible families filing now will likely receive payments in the following months. Even if monthly payments begin after July, the IRS will adjust the monthly amounts upward to ensure that people still receive half of their total eligible Child Tax Credit benefit by the end of the year.
Filing soon will also ensure that the IRS has their most current bank account information, as well as key details about qualifying family members. This includes people who don’t normally file a tax return, such as families experiencing homelessness and people in underserved groups.
For most people, the fastest and easiest way to file a return is by using IRS Free File, available only on IRS.gov. Besides qualifying them for these advance payments, using Free File will also enable them to claim other family-oriented tax benefits, if eligible, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Recovery Rebate Credit/Economic Impact Payments.
New tool helps non-filers register
For families who don’t normally file an income tax return, another easy option is to register for these advance payments using the new Non-filer Sign-up Tool, introduced recently, and available only on IRS.gov. Among other things, the tool asks users to supply current bank information, along with key details about themselves and their qualifying children. The tool then automatically fills in a very basic 2020 federal income tax return that is electronically sent to the IRS. The new tool was developed in partnership with Intuit and the Free File Alliance.
Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant unveiled
Before filing a return or using the Non-filer Sign-up Tool, families unsure of whether they qualify for either the credit or the advance payments may want to check out another new tool — the Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant. By answering a series of questions, the tool helps people determine if they qualify for the credit and the payments.
The IRS emphasized that because the Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant requests no personalized information, it is not a registration tool, but merely an eligibility tool. Nevertheless, it can still help an eligible family determine whether they should take the next step and either file an income tax return or register using the Non-filer Sign-up Tool.
Personal help available
IRS and its partners are helping families register for the payments using the Non-filer Sign-up Tool. During late June and early July, free events will take place in Atlanta, Brooklyn, Detroit, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Phoenix, St. Louis and Washington, D.C. More details will be available soon on IRS.gov.
Child Tax Credit 2021
The IRS has created a special Advance Child Tax Credit 2021 page, designed to provide the most up-to-date information about the credit and the advance payments. It’s at IRS.gov/childtaxcredit2021.
Among other things, it provides direct links to the Non-Filer Sign Up Tool, the Child Tax Credit Update Portal, the Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant, a set of frequently asked questions and other useful resources.
Child Tax Credit changes
The American Rescue Plan raised the maximum Child Tax Credit in 2021 to $3,600 for children under the age of 6 and to $3,000 per child for children ages 6 through 17. Before 2021, the credit was worth up to $2,000 per eligible child.
The new maximum credit is available to taxpayers with a modified adjusted gross income (AGI) of:
- $75,000 or less for singles,
- $112,500 or less for heads of household and
- $150,000 or less for married couples filing a joint return and qualified widows and widowers.
For most people, modified AGI is the amount shown on Line 11 of their 2020 Form 1040 or 1040-SR. Above these income thresholds, the extra amount above the original $2,000 credit — either $1,000 or $1,600 per child — is reduced by $50 for every $1,000 in modified AGI. In addition, the credit is fully refundable for 2021. This means that eligible families can get it, even if they owe no federal income tax. Before this year, the refundable portion was limited to $1,400 per child.
Help spread the word
The IRS urges community groups, non-profits, associations, education organizations and anyone else with connections to people with children to share this critical information about the Child Tax Credit as well as other important benefits. Among other things, the IRS is already working closely with its community partners to ensure wide access to the Non-filer Sign-up Tool and the Child Tax Credit Update Portal. The agency is also providing additional materials and information that can be easily shared by social media, email and other methods.
For the most up-to-date information on the Child Tax Credit and advance payments, visit Advance Child Tax Credit Payments in 2021.
For more information visit irs.gov.