When will the child tax credit payments start? Everything to know about the schedule – CNET

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Eligible households could receive up to $300 per child each month. 


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You could get $250 or up to $300 per kid starting next month if you opt for monthly payments with the advance child tax credit. Depending on the age of your children, that would work out to as much as $3,000 or $3,600 over 2021 and 2022 per eligible dependent between July 15 (when the first check is set to arrive from the IRS) and tax time next year. July is also when the IRS will open two web portals that will let you select whether to receive your checks each month through the end of the year or get one payment in 2022.

We’ll tell you when to expect all of your payments to arrive, based on March’s stimulus bill. Families may need to update their information before then if their income or number of children has changed. The IRS web portals, which will be available by July 1, will assist in ironing out those details. One of the child tax credit portals will allow parents to opt out of monthly payments if they prefer to get one check for the total amount of the credit next year instead.

There are also important details if you normally don’t file a tax return or if you share child custody. We have some ideas for ways to use your child tax credit money. You might also want to know how to claim up to $16,000 in child care expenses and how you should expect to receive your payments. For other money matters, here’s what to do if your stimulus check or plus-up payment hasn’t arrived. This story has been updated recently.

When will the child tax credit payments begin and end?

The first child tax credit payments will start to arrive July 15. (Make sure you understand the income limits for eligible households.) The first six payments will arrive monthly, targeting the same day of the month — though you may not receive the payment on the exact same day every month, especially if you get a paper check instead of a direct deposit payment.

If the child tax credit payment date falls on a holiday or weekend — for example, Aug. 15 is a Sunday — it’s likely the payment will go out the following Monday. The checks will end in December, with your final sum coming next year. Here’s a rough schedule, and here’s how to calculate your check amount

Timeline for the child tax credit payments

Monthly Maximum payment per child 5 and younger Maximum payment per child; 6 to 17
July 15: First 2021 check $300 $250
Aug. 16 $300 $250
Sept. 15 $300 $250
Oct. 15 $300 $250
Nov. 15 $300 $250
Dec. 15: Last 2021 check $300 $250
April 2022: Second half of payment $1,800 $1,500

Will I get a check if my children are older than age 17?

If your older dependents are 18 years old, they can qualify for $500 each. Dependents between the ages of 19 and 24 may qualify as well, but they must be enrolled in college full-time.


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Child tax credit: Everything we know

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When can I update my income and family details in the child tax credit portals?

The IRS will launch two online portals by July 1. The first is for people who are not normally required to file an income tax return and will let these nonfilers provide information so they can receive payments.

The second portal will allow families to update their information if their circumstances have changed, for example, if a new child arrives in 2021 who isn’t reflected on your 2020 tax return. You will also be able to use the portal to opt out of the monthly payments and receive the entire amount at one time when you file your taxes in 2022.

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The larger child tax credit can help families that have seen more financial hardship due to the pandemic. 


Sarah Tew/CNET

What should I do if I still need to file my taxes?

Payments will be automatic for those who filed their 2020 tax returns by the May 17 deadline. Nonfilers need to file a 2020 tax return to get the credit, even if they don’t usually submit tax returns. This will let the IRS know how many dependents are in the household who count toward the child tax credit benefits.

Taxpayers shouldn’t file an amended return related to the new legislation and shouldn’t take other “unnecessary steps,” the IRS said March 12.

If you didn’t make the May 17 deadline, you may not get the full monthly child tax credit payment you’re owed, at least not right away. The IRS said you’ll be able to update your income and dependent status so the agency is using your most recent info when calculating payments. One of the upcoming IRS portals will be designed for people who don’t usually file taxes

How do the ages of my children determine the amount I get?

You may be confused about how your payments will be divided between 2021 and 2022. For each qualifying child age 5 and younger, up to $1,800 will come in six $300 monthly payments this year. For each kid between the ages of 6 and 17, up to $1,500 will come as $250 monthly payments six times in 2021. For both age groups, the rest of the payment will come with your 2021 tax refund, when you claim the remainder of the tax credit in 2022. Here’s how to calculate your family’s total child tax credit amount, including a monthly breakdown.

Qualifying dependents between ages 18 and 24 count toward a one-time $500 payment. Here’s more on the financial breakdown for qualified dependents

2021 child tax credit maximum payments

Ages 5 and younger Up to $3,600, with half as $300 monthly payments
Ages 6 to 17 Up to $3,000, with half as $250 monthly payments
Age 18 $500 one-time check
Ages 19 and 24, full-time college students $500 one-time check

How is this year’s child tax credit different from past years?

The first thing to know is you won’t get your child tax credit payments all at once in 2021. The credit part means the amount you owe in your 2021 taxes will be reduced by the “credit” you gain from your eligible dependents. That could either reduce your payment to the IRS for your 2021 taxes (filed in 2022) or else increase your tax refund. Normally, you’d receive that credit as a tax refund in 2022, but the plan is to bring you money sooner, which is why the checks will start coming in 2021 as “advance payments.”

This logic also explains why your 2021 child tax credit is split into two parts. The first part, in 2021, is the advance payment you can start using right away. The second part will apply to your 2021 taxes, which you file in 2022. 

What if I have a newborn or adopt a child in 2021?

If you have a baby in 2021, your newborn will count toward the child tax credit payment of $3,600, if you and they qualify. Children who are adopted can also qualify if they’re US citizens.

What about parents who have shared custody?

For the first two stimulus checks, some parents who shared custody of a child but weren’t married to each other were entitled to each claim money for the same child. That was only if they alternated years for claiming the dependent — in other words, if one parent claimed the child on their taxes in odd years and the other claimed the child on their taxes in even years.

This is no longer allowed for the third check, and we’re told it won’t work that way for the child tax credit payments either. Here’s what we know so far about the child tax credit and shared custody situations.

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The expanded child tax credit is expected to make a big impact for eligible parents.


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How can I opt out of the monthly payments and get one check instead of multiple?

You aren’t obligated to receive child tax credit payments monthly this year. Instead, you can choose to get one payment in 2022. (The upcoming IRS portal will let you opt out of the monthly payments.) You may want to opt out, for example, if you’d rather have one large payment next year or if you’re concerned the IRS might overpay you this year and you don’t want to pay back money next year. That means you’d get a larger total in your tax refund or owe the IRS less money because the credit would be deducted from your total.

What are the income limits for the 2021 child tax credit? 

The amount you’ll get will phase out for people with higher incomes: singles earning more than $75,000 per year, heads of household earning more than $112,500 per year and married couples earning more than $150,000 a year. Your child tax credit payments will begin to phase out by $50 for every $1,000 of income over those threshold amounts, according to Joanna Powell, managing director and certified financial planner at CBIZ.

Will I get the child tax credit checks by mail or direct deposit?

The way your child tax credit money arrives could very well depend on how you receive your stimulus check money. Most people will receive child tax payments by direct deposit, but the IRS will also send paper checks and funds on debit cards. 

For stimulus checks, people who received Social Security benefits like SSI or SSDI got $1,400 payments on a Direct Express card. Veterans who don’t normally pay taxes might also have a different delivery method. We’ll update this when we have more information about the kind of debit cards you may receive.

What should I expect after the final check arrives this year?

The final advance payment of the child tax credit is scheduled to go out by Dec. 31, with the rest coming in 2022 with tax season. But President Joe Biden stated that the higher payments may last until at least 2025. He presented his American Families Plan proposal to extend the payments, stating in an April 28 speech: “Together, let’s extend the Child Tax Credit at least through the end of 2025.” It’s up to Congress to approve his request.

If I get too much child tax credit money, do I have to return it to the IRS?

Yes. The child tax credit rules aren’t as flexible as the stimulus check rules. If you receive more money than you should have, you will have to pay it back. One example of this happening is if you and the other parent of your child (who is not your spouse) are both paid for the child tax credit for the same dependent.

When you file your 2021 tax return (in 2022), if your tax situation isn’t what the IRS has in its system and you weren’t entitled to as much as you received, you’ll have to give the overpayment back. To avoid this tax inconvenience, make sure all your information is updated before the payments start arriving. The future portal will allow you to make adjustments.

For more information, here are the top things to know about the $3,600 child tax credit. Plus, here’s how to track your tax refund and how to track your stimulus check.

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