Child tax credit calculator 2021: How much your family can get starting July 15 – CNET

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Parents with eligible dependents will receive the first advance child tax credit payment in a little over six weeks. 


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That first of the monthly payments coming with the expanded child tax credit is expected July 15, with the rest of the money arriving through the end of 2021 and into 2022. But do you know if you’re eligible for the full $3,600 for each kid? And how much will you get in monthly installments this year? With our calculator, below, we can help you get those answers.

To make sure you get the full amount you are eligible for, we recommend informing the IRS on any income changes or your number of dependents before the payments start this summer. Two IRS web portals will be available by July 1 to update your information, with one of those portals designated specifically to opt out of the partial monthly payments, if your family would rather receive the total amount next year instead.

We don’t know for certain whether the increased child tax credit payments will be extended, but we promise to keep you posted. As a parent, you might be interested in another credit that lets you claim up to $16,000 for child care expenses. Here’s what we know about a possible fourth stimulus check and what’s happening with states eliminating unemployment benefits early. We continue to update this story.


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Calculate the amount of your child tax credit payments

The 2021 expanded child tax credit boosts the 2020 credit from a max of $2,000 per child to $3,600 — but the math gets complicated fast. Children age 5 and under who meet the requirements count for $3,600. Kids between 6 and 17 years old who are eligible count for $3,000 maximum per child; 18-year-olds and full-time college students 24 and under can qualify for a one-time $500 payment. 

To calculate your payment, enter your details below, including your adjusted gross income, or AGI. This calculator does not store or use your data. The results are based on our current knowledge of the law and should be treated as broad estimates only. (The IRS will determine the final amount.) We suggest consulting a financial professional for a more personalized estimate.

Child tax credit calculator for 2021

Use details from your 2020 tax return.

1. Choose your filing status below.

SingleMarriedHead of Household

Note: If your AGI is less than or equal to $75,000 as a single filer, $112,500 as a head of household or $150,000 filing jointly, you’ll receive the full amount. For incomes higher than $150,000, your child tax credit payments will begin to phase out by $50 for every $1,000 of income over the threshold.

Child tax credit payment schedule 2021-2022

Here’s how the child tax credit payments will arrive, starting July 15 through 2022. The chart shows the maximum payment size, but you may qualify for less. (And, no, that Aug. 16 date is not a mistake. Aug. 15 falls on a Sunday.)

For an 18-year-old, as well as for full-time college students ages 19 to 24, you will receive one payment when you file your tax return in 2022.

Timeline for the child tax credit payments

Monthly Payment ages 5 and younger Payment ages 6 to 17 Payment ages 18 to 24
July 15, 2021: First payment of the year $300 $250
Aug. 16, 2021 $300 $250
Sept. 15, 2021 $300 $250
Oct. 15, 2021 $300 $250
Nov. 15, 2021 $300 $250
Dec. 15, 2021: Last payment of the year $300 $250
April 2022: Second half of payment $1,800 $1,500 $500

How to opt out of advance monthly child tax credit payments

If you’d rather get your 2021 child tax credit money as one large payment, you’ll be able to opt out of monthly payments once the IRS opens its online portals by July 1. 

One portal will allow families to tell the IRS they want to receive the benefit in full at tax time at the end of the year rather than on a monthly basis. Opting out would mean that instead of receiving $300 per month for your 3-year-old (and the remainder of your money in 2022, for example), you wait until you file your taxes in 2022 to claim the full $3,600.

Another portal will help you input other information, like if your AGI changed. 

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Babies born this year can be eligible for the full $3,600.


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Information for new parents 

Children born in 2021 make you eligible for the 2021 tax credit of $3,600 per child. (That’s up to $7,200 for twins.) That’s on top of payments for any other qualified child dependents you claim. Here’s our guide for parents of 2021 babies, including what parents of adopted infants should know.

Eligibility rules for dependents

There are some specific rules regarding qualifications not just for parents and caregivers, but for the children, too. Here’s what to know about dependent qualifications for the child tax credit. You should also see if you’re eligible for a child care tax credit if you paid for a day care, after-school program or babysitter. 


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What to know if a child ages out of a payment bracket

If you have a 5-year-old turning 6 by the end of the year, the total payment amount you could get for that child is $3,000. If you have a 17-year-old who turns 18 before the end of the year, you would receive $500 total for that dependent instead of $3,000. If you have a dependent who is a full-time college student and turns 25 this year, you won’t receive any payment for them.

How your 2020 tax return impacts child tax credit payments

You need to file your 2020 taxes to get the credit if you’re a nonfiler. The IRS will automatically make the payments for those who filed their taxes by the May 17 tax deadline, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said. So if you don’t have your tax return submitted by this time, the IRS won’t know to send you a payment. Also, if you plan to file a tax extension, you’ll likely be able to use the IRS portal, where you can update your information in case you’ve gained dependents since the last tax filing.

What to do about an IRS overpayment 

Your family’s eligibility is determined in large part by your adjusted gross income. So what happens if you get a new job or start making more money in 2021? What happens if the payments have already gone out and you spent the money?

The IRS has a plan for this: It’s the child tax credit portal the agency will make available by July 1 so you can update your information. If you need to make an adjustment, it will lower the payment amounts you’d receive if your new income reaches the phaseout level, according to Garrett Watson, a senior policy analyst at Tax Foundation.

If you wait until 2022 to update your information when you file your taxes and you continue to receive the full amount based on your lower income, you would have to return the excess money on your 2021 tax return next spring, or else accept a smaller 2021 refund or owe more in taxes.

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