Child tax credit for $3,600: Calculate how much money you may actually get – CNET


The first of the child tax credit payments will arrive next month. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

The first payment with the advance child tax credit should go out July 15. But figuring out the amount you could receive next month can get complicated fast, when you do the math for the different age and income requirements. To help you figure it all out, you can use our calculator below to get an easy and quick estimate before the payments start arriving.

We recommend letting the IRS know about any income changes or number of dependents to make sure you get the right amount. Two IRS web portals will be available by July 1 to let you do that, as well as opt out of the partial monthly payments, if your family would rather receive the total amount in a single payment next year instead.

We’re still waiting to hear if the child tax credit payments will be extended, but we’ll keep you updated. We’ll also explain what nonfilers need to do to get the child tax credit money. 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 your child tax credit payments

Enter your adjusted gross income and number of dependents below to calculate your payment. (Our calculator will not store or use your data.) The results you get 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

The child tax credit math is complicated, but we’ll explain: Eligible children under age 5 count for $3,600 each. Eligible kids between 6 and 17 years old count for $3,000. 18-year-olds and full-time college students 24 and under count for $500.

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

What happens if a child ages out of a payment bracket this year?

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.

Child tax credit payment timeline for 2021 and 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 Maximum payment (newborn to 5) Maximum payment (6 to 17) Maximum payment (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

What if you aren’t required to file a tax return?

If you are a nonfiler and didn’t file a tax return this year, the IRS will make a portal available in July to help people who don’t normally file taxes. The portal is expected to let tax nonfilers submit a simplified electronic form to let the IRS know how many kids they have and their ages — including babies born in 2020 and 2021 — so they can get the correct payment amount.

You can opt out of the 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. 


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

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Details new parents should know

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.

What to do if you don’t usually file taxes

If you’re eligible for the child tax credit money but you’re not typically required to file taxes, the IRS has ways to handle it. The agency will open a portal that’s expected to let tax nonfilers submit a simplified electronic form. In that portal, you’ll let the IRS know how many kids you have and their ages. You can also submit a tax return now if you don’t want to wait for the portal to open.

Requirements 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 daycare, an after-school program or a babysitter. 

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How does your 2020 tax return impact child tax credit payment amounts?

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 if the IRS accidentally overpays you

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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