Child Tax Credit 2021, AdvCTC Payments

Important: The IRS sent the last advance Child Tax Credit payment on December 15, 2021 and the advance Child Tax Credit payments were not brought back for any other year, thus making the advance CTC payments an expired program. This means that the increased amounts are no longer available and you will need earned income in order to claim the Child Tax Credit for any other year. You can calculate the current year Child Tax Credit here before you eFileIT. The remaining information on this page is archived for 2021 Returns; use the current year tax refund calculator with new child tax credit information.

Taxpayers did not need to take further action to receive the monthly advance 2021 Child Tax Credit (CTC) payments if they had already filed their 2020 Return and had their dependent information with the IRS.

If you added your information to the CTC Update Portal late (this tool is no longer active), then you may have been eligible to receive the full amount in December as a catch-up payment.

Start 2021 Child Tax Credit Calculator

child tax credit payment

Child Tax Credit on 2021 Taxes

The only way to claim your full enhanced Child Tax Credit is by filing a 2021 Return. Because you can no longer e-file a 2021 Return on, fill in these free 2021 Tax Forms and include Schedule 8812.

Reconcile your advance Child Tax Credit by reporting any payments you received during 2021. If you received too much, you may be entitled to repayment protection if your adjusted gross income or AGI is at or below the following limits:

  • Married filing jointly; qualifying widower: $60,000 or under for full repayment protection, $60,001 - $99,999 for partial repayment protection, and $100,000 or more for no repayment protection
  • Head of household: $50,000 or under for full repayment protection, $50,001 - $99,999 for partial repayment protection, and $100,000 or more for no repayment protection
  • Single: $40,000 or under for full repayment protection, $60,001 - $79,999 for partial repayment protection, and $80,000 or more for no repayment protection.

When filling in Schedule 8812, enter accurate and honest figures only. If you enter the wrong figures, the IRS will adjust this for you, but it will delay your refund and will result in a different refund amount. For example, if you claimed too much, this would decrease your refund and you may even owe the IRS. The IRS will communicate this via letter - the IRS will not contact you online, email, or text.

Child Tax Credit Advance Payment and Amounts

The advance Child Tax Credit or AdvCTC, as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, was a refundable tax credit. It was an advance payment of a tax credit you would qualify for on your 2021 tax return. In January, 2022, you should have received IRS Letter 6419 stating the advance payments you have received; report this on your 2021 Tax Return.

  • The tax credit amounts increased for many qualifying taxpayers, giving parents or guardians up to $3,600 per child.
  • Unlike the regular Child Tax Credit, there was no 2021 taxable income requirement to be eligible to claim the advance Child Tax Credit. The advance Child Tax Credit for qualifying children was a fully refundable credit. As a U.S. Citizen with a U.S. address for at least half of 2021, you could have benefited from the credit even if you did not owe taxes or have earned income.
  • Qualified recipients had the option to receive monthly direct payments as part of the Child Tax Credit from the IRS during 2021 before filing your 2021 Tax Return. Tip: look for deposit description IRS TREAS 310 CHILDCTC.
  • These advance payments were not to be reduced or offset for overdue taxes or other federal/state debts that taxpayers or their spouses owe, but they were not exempt from garnishment. They were subject to offset for tax debts if claimed on the 2021 Return as a tax refund.

How to Claim the AdvCTC Advance Child Tax Credit Payments

The only way to claim these advance payments was by filing a 2020 Tax Return or by enrolling via the IRS Child Tax Credit Update Portal (CTC UP)Important: enrollment for the advance payments closed on November 15, 2021. If you have already filed a 2020 return, you do not have to do anything additional; if you do not normally file, you will have wanted to prepare a simplified version of a 2020 tax return. Now, you will need to file a 2021 Return to claim the rest of the credit. You should have received IRS Letter 6419 in early 2022 to report on your 2021 Return.

Do I qualify for the AdvCTC?

To qualify for the advance CTC payments, you must:

  • Have a qualifying 2021 Tax Year qualifying dependent with a Social Security Number that is valid for employment in the United States. Not sure? Use our free dependent calculator,
  • Have lived in the U.S. for more than half of 2021,
  • Possess a valid SSN,
  • Have filed a 2020 or 2019 income tax return (if you have not filed for these years, see below: I do not normally file a tax return),
  • Fall within the income ranges for your filing status:
    • Married filing jointly: up to $150,000
    • Head of household: up to $112,000
    • Single, married filing separately: $75,000
      • Note: these ranges are for your expected 2021 income, NOT 2020 tax returns. The IRS is issuing the payments based on your 2020 income, but the credit amount will ultimately be based on your 2021 income. If you have income above these figures or expect to in 2021, you may still qualify for a reduced portion of the full credit. 
How much will I receive for the AdvCTC?

If you fall into the range above, you may be able to receive up to a total of:

  • $3,600 per child age 0-5 (age as of Dec. 31, 2021) via 6 monthly payments of $300 before claiming the remaining $1,800 on a 2021 tax return.
  • $3,000 per child age 6-17 (age as of Dec. 31, 2021) via 6 monthly payments of $250 before claiming the remaining $1,500 on a 2021 tax return.
  • If your income is above the threshold, you may receive a reduced, calculated portion of these amounts. If it is above the phaseout threshold, then you may qualify for the regular Child Tax Credit which is not eligible for advance payments.
I have not filed a 2020 tax return

If you are generally required to file a tax return and have not done so, file your 2020 tax return now. It is too late for advance payments of the 2021 credit; claim the credit on your 2021 return.

My dependent was claimed on a 2020 return

Will someone receive your due Child Tax Credit payments? The IRS will issue the payments based on this return, so they would receive the payments starting in July. However, there are some situations to consider; since these are advance payments of the 2021 return, the payments would have to be repaid if wrongfully claimed. In this situation, whoever claimed the dependent will want to opt out or unenroll on the IRS portal so they do not have to repay this. Consider these scenarios:

  • I know who claimed my dependent: they will want to opt out of the payments (via the tool see below: IRS Child Tax Credit Portal) so they do not wrongfully receive them. If they do so, you will be able to update this on your end on the IRS portal. Input your 2021 information so the IRS can issue these payments. If they do not unenroll, follow these instructions. Alternatively, both parties can make the necessary or correct advanced Child Tax Credit adjustment on the respective 2021 tax returns.
  • I do not know who claimed my dependent or they will not cooperate: you may be able to update your information on the IRS portal, however, it may be rejected by the IRS since their records will show that they are already issuing credit for the person who claimed them. If this is the case, you would have to file a 2021 return as soon as it is available and claim your dependents. Doing this will give you a lump sum of the tax credit - whoever claimed the credit wrongly will owe it back.
  • My ex-spouse and I alternate years - who gets the credit? If you did not claim your dependent on the 2020 return, but it is your year to claim on the 2021 return, you are the spouse who should receive the credit. The spouse who claimed the dependent for 2020 will want to unenroll on the IRS tool (via the tool see below: IRS Child Tax Credit Portal) and you will want to add your dependent and claim them on your 2021 tax return. If the spouse does not opt out, see the link below. Alternatively, both parties can make the necessary Child Tax Credit adjustment on the respective 2021 tax returns. For example, if a spouse received the 2021 advanced Child Tax Credit incorrectly, that spouse would not claim the dependent in question on the 2021 tax return, while the other spouse would claim that dependent and enter 0 (number zero) as advanced Child Tax Credit payment.
  • Learn more here on how to address wrongfully claimed dependents on a tax return or if a spouse is not cooperative on this matter.
I have filed a 2020 return

If you have already filed a 2020 return, you do not have to do anything to begin receiving these payments. You may have received a CTC letter in June, July 2021. The IRS issued these based on your 2020 information, but they are estimated based on your 2021 return. Because of this, if you expect your situation to change in 2021, you will have to update this via the IRS Child Tax Credit Update Portal (IRS CTC UP). Find details on the IRS tools below. Alternatively, you can make adjustments (e.g. add a dependent born during 2021, remove a dependent) when you file your 2021 Return.

I do not normally file a tax return

If you do not file a tax return each year - your only income is SSI, you do not have taxable income, etc. - then you may need to take action. As someone who does not normally file - the term non-filer has been used - here are two options:

  • Option 1: Fill in and mail your 2021 Return with Form 1040 and Schedule 8812. You can claim the full credit on your 2021 Return as well as the third stimulus payment if you did not receive it.
  • Option 2: Use the IRS CTC Portal (no longer valid) or Free Fillable Forms page. This IRS tool allows you to fill in a simplified return and get your information to the IRS so they can issue the above payments. Important: Do NOT use this tool if you are required to file a 2020 or 2021 tax return, as this tool will count as a tax return. You can use the tool to update your information after you have filed. If you subsequently filed a regular return, it would get rejected and you would have to file a tax amendment.

The IRS has stated that those whose only income is different benefits, such as Social Security Income, Railroad Retirement Benefits, etc., should have their information used to issue these payments if they qualify. However, it is encouraged that recipients use the IRS portal to be sure their information is up-to-date.

Can my Child Tax Credit be taken for past-due debt, child support; is my CTC subject to garnishment?
Advance payments of the Child Tax Credits could not be claimed for past due tax debt or overdue child support payments. They were, however, subject to garnishment. When you claim your remaining CTC on your return, your tax refund and CTC may be claimed for past-due debt and garnishment.
Why would I have to pay back the Child Tax Credit?
If you received an excess or an amount of the CTC were you not owed, you may owe this on your 2021 Tax Return when you file. Reasons include not living in the U.S. during 2021, not claiming the child on a 2021 Return, your income greatly increased, etc. You may qualify for repayment protection if your income is under the enhanced CTC AGI limits for each filing status.
I did not receive any CTC payments, but they were issued.
Like the stimulus checks, many payments were sent, but in rare cases, they were not received or they were received by the wrong person. If this is the case, you are unable to claim them on your 2021 Return and/or the IRS adjusted your CTC on your 2021 Return and issued you a letter explaining the change, likely IRS Notice CP12. You can request a payment trace if significant time passed since the IRS records indicate the payment was sent. Since the advance payments are no longer being issued, all the timeframes have passed; if you did not receive these payments, but the IRS states you did, you will need to start a payment trace. Complete and mail or fax Form 3911, Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund to begin this process.

Advanced Child Tax Credit case study, example: A married couple filing jointly has a total income of $90,000 and will claim two children, ages 6 and 10 as of December 31, 2021. They are eligible to receive a total of $6,000 composed of $3,000 per child dependent. They have already filed their 2020 return and claimed these dependents, thus the IRS used this to automatically issue advance payments of this amount each month using the direct deposit information submitted on the return. The advance payments are half of the total, so the couple will receive $500 ($250 per dependent) each month until December. They will file their 2021 return, report the amount they received, and claim the remaining half of their tax credit, $3,000. Throughout 2021, they received $3,000 and will claim the other half on their tax return.

IRS Child Tax Credit Portal

These tools are no longer active and the details may not apply currently.

The IRS launched two separate CTC tools by updating the current non-filer tool to include the ability to include the Child Tax Credit. They also launched the Child Tax Credit Update Portal or CTCUP. The tool(s) will be used to file a simplified return and/or to update your tax information that would affect your credit amount. As of November 2021, it is also available in Spanish. Important: enrollment ended November 15, 2021. You can no longer elect to receive 50% of your due Child Tax Credit during 2021; you will need to claim 100% of the credit by filing a 2021 Return.

IRS Tool
Non-filer, Free Fillable Forms

Enter your name, social security number, and other identifying information. On the forms, report your dependents, any income, and file your return to the IRS. They will then use this to issue the advance 2021 CTC payments. They will likely create a similar tool in 2021 for non-filers to create and e-file a simplified 2021 return in order to claim the second half of the credit.

CTC Update Portal

The IRS has confirmed that taxpayers who have filed a 2020 return will use the portal to update their information, track their payments, and opt out of receiving the advance payments. The following can be updated:

  • Mailing address,
  • Direct deposit information (if your 2020 tax refund was mailed to you, you may be able to provide direct deposit information on the portal in order to receive these payments directly to your bank),
  • Marital status,
  • Re-enroll if previously unenrolled, and,
  • Change in income (to avoid an overpayment of the credit, which would have to be paid back when filing).
  • Changes in dependents, such as removing a dependent or adding a newborn child in 2021.

To sign up and edit information, you will need an IRS account or an account.

If you are not sure if a child qualifies as your dependent on your 2021 tax return, use this Dependent Calculator to find out. See information on what to do when your dependent was claimed incorrectly by another taxpayer e.g. in joint or shared custody situations.

Important: the IRS will not initiate contact via email, text message, or social media. Do not respond to any inquiries claiming to be the IRS requesting information regarding the advance Child Tax Credit payments.

IRS CTC UP - No Longer Active

The platform can be used to update your information to issue the correct amounts of payments. The IRS issues advance payments based on your adjusted gross income or AGI and dependent information. If you expect your income situation to change next year, you will want to update this via the portal. To do so, navigate to Manage Advance Payments and Report Life Changes. If you indicate that your AGI will be higher, then your advance payments may decrease; if your AGI will be lower, your payment may increase.

If your income increased or decreased in 2021, be sure to update this with the IRS.

Child Tax Credit Advance Payment and Amounts

The IRS announced on June 7, 2021 that they began issuing letters to taxpayers who may be eligible. Recipients may have seen IRS Letter 6416-A or 6416-B come in the mail, followed by IRS Letter 6147, a second letter closer to July detailing their monthly payments. IRS Letter 6419 will show the full amount which will be used on the 2021 Tax Return, that was sent around January 2022.

Common questions relating to the enhanced Child Tax Credit:

  • When will I receive my Child Tax Credit checks?
  • Can I get money for my kids or dependents older than 17?
  • How am I going to receive my Child Tax Credit payments?
  • Do I need to file an income tax return to receive the Child Tax Credit?
  • Does my newborn baby count for the Child Tax Credit?
  • Can I get the Child Tax Credit for dependent claimed by an ex-spouse?
  • How long do the CTC checks last?
  • Do I have to repay the amount I receive if I get too much?

The IRS paid half of this credit in advance. That is, through monthly payments of potentially $300 for a child under 6 years old and $250 for all qualifying dependents ages 6-17. Parents who claim dependents and qualify for this were able to receive half of the enhanced Child Tax Credit during the 2021 tax year before claiming the remaining half on their 2021 tax return. There are some guidelines for who can claim the credit as not everyone will be eligible:

  • Families might be eligible to receive, for each dependent, a total Child Tax Credit payment of $3,600 for each child claimed under the age of 6. These will be monthly payments issued either via direct deposit or mail on the fifteenth of each month, July 15 - December 15, 2021. The payment for each child or dependent between the age 6 and 17 is $3,000. This enhanced portion of the CTC will be available for single or married filing separate parents with a 2021 tax return AGI (adjusted gross income) of up to $75,000. Those filing head of household can have an AGI up to $112,500. For parents with the filing status married filing jointly, the income limit is an AGI of $150,000 on the 2021 tax return. Learn more about your IRS filing status. These are phaseout periods; for any amount over the limit, 5% of the credit is reduced, or five dollars for every hundred. Note: if your AGI does not qualify you for the credit, you can still claim the normal Child Tax Credit with the higher AGI limits.
  • The child age is based on their age at the end of the tax year - for Tax Year 2021, that would be as of December 31, 2021. For example, if a 5 year old child turns 6 during 2021 (as of December 31, 2021), that dependent would fall into the age 6-17 bracket. If a 17 year old dependent turns 18 during 2021, then they would not be eligible for the advance tax credit.
  • You will qualify for full repayment protection if your 2021 income falls under the following AGI limits: $60,000 for married filing joint, $50,000 for head of household, and $40,000 for single. This means that, if your income is below these, you will be fully protected from paying back any excess advance payments of the CTC. This protection phases out until your income reaches the the limits from the first bullet point.
    • For example, you are a single taxpayer who made $30,000 during 2021 and had claimed two qualifying dependent children on your 2020 tax return. You were given advance payments based on these, but you are only going to claim one qualifying child on your 2021 return. Because your income is below the limit, you will be fully protected from repaying this when you file your 2021 return by receiving up to $2,000 in repayment protection.
  • Unlike the traditional Child Tax Credit, which might be partially refundable, the enhanced credit is fully refundable and no longer requires earned income of $2,500. If you do not normally file (i.e. you normally do not have enough earned income), you may be eligible to claim these payments through a tax return or the future CTC portal.
  • Dependents with the age of 18 might qualify for up to $500 of Child Tax Credit. Children or dependents between the ages of 19 and 24 who attend college full-time might also qualify for up to $500 per dependent.
  • If a child was born during 2021 as a qualifying dependent and they have not been reported to the IRS by July 2021, a taxpayer has the following two options for receiving the enhanced Child Tax Credit payment:
    • Option A: A taxpayer could use the IRS portal - scheduled to open by July 1, 2021 - and register the 2021 newly born child as a dependent. We do not have all the details on this, so bookmark this page as it will be updated as the information becomes available. See below for more details.
    • Option B: You could claim the enhanced Child Tax Credit on your 2021 tax return and receive the Child Tax Credit or CTC in a lump sum via your tax refund or reduce your taxes owed. Option B would not enable you to receive monthly payments starting in July 2021; for that, you would have to use Option A.
  • If a child passes away during 2021, the parent or taxpayer who claimed them on the tax return is still eligible to claim the advance payments. If the qualifying child was alive during 2021 and was eligible to be claimed on your return, you can claim the advance payments of the credit for 2021.
  • The IRS based the payments off your 2020 return - if a 2020 return is not available, they will have used a 2019 return or a "non-filer return" if available. If you file your 2020 return late - as in, after the payments have begun in July - and doing so changes your payment amount, the IRS will adjust this for the remaining payments.
  • If you have filed or e-filed a tax extension which has been accepted, this will delay getting your information to the IRS. The IRS will use your last available return information - potentially 2019 - to issue your payments if you do not update your extension with your income tax return or use the IRS CTC portal when it launches.
  • A dependent can only be claimed once per year, meaning, in the case of separated parents or guardians, only one taxpayer may claim the credit. The dependent must be claimed by the taxpayer who is eligible to claim; if wrongly claimed, the amount may have to be repaid. In general, if you receive an overpayment of the credit (for example, your income changes and you qualify for less than you received) then you will have to repay this via a 2021 tax return. Be as accurate as possible if reporting your information on the IRS portal. If you did not claim a dependent on the 2020 return, you may be able to add the information on the CTC UP to indicate you will be claiming them on the 2021 return.
  • You will be able to change your method of payment for the enhanced Child Tax Credit payments via the IRS Child Tax Credit portal. See below for more information. The enhanced Child Tax Credit payments are only set to last through 2021, but President Biden has suggested that this may be extended through as long as 2025 as part of the American Families Plan.

IRS Child Tax Credit Portal and Non-filers

The advance Child Tax Credit or CTC payments began in July 2021 and ended in 2022 which was never extended.

The Internal Revenue Service launched a site where taxpayers can update their information, non-filers can enroll, and all users can track the enhanced Child Tax Credit. The CTC payments will be made monthly and not in one lump sum payment - though taxpayers can unenroll and receive just one payment. Taxpayers can use the IRS portal to indicate to the IRS that they wish to opt out or report any changes to their households in 2021. Families without internet service can use a paper form or visit an IRS office.

Since not all families have sufficient income to require filing a tax return, the IRS has suggested that parents or guardians who do not normally file (e.g. did not file a 2019 and/or 2020 tax return) will be able to simply create an account via the IRS portal and get their credit that way. The IRS portal will also let non-filers and taxpayers who did file update their children’s custody or dependent claim arrangements - for example, if children have moved since last reported on a tax return or to add newborn babies since the last of any filed tax return.

The IRS has created the Child Tax Credit Update Portal or CTC UP. It be used for taxpayers to opt out/unenroll in the advance payment program and has tools for users to get a status of their payments, update their information. Parents or guardians will be able to update their mailing address, banking information, dependent information, marital changes, or a change in income. The page is also where those who do not normally file can get their information to the IRS.

Why would I want to opt out of the advance Child Tax Credit Payments? You may want to not claim these advance payments for a few reasons. Some taxpayers simply like a large check at the end of the year; instead of using the money during the year, take a big check after filing your 2021 return and pay off your debt in a large sum or put a down payment on a new car. Additionally, if you expect your income to increase in 2021 - if you start receiving payments now, but your new income puts you above the phase-out threshold - you may have to pay this back. If you expect your dependent to be claimed on the 2021 return - maybe by an ex spouse as part of a divorce agreement and you alternate years - then you would want to unenroll if you claimed your dependent this year. You would want to opt out if you no longer live in the U.S. for more than half of 2021. If you reported a U.S. address on your 2020 return, you will want to opt out if you anticipate establishing a foreign residency in 2021.

The unenrollment date is at lest three days before the month of the next payment. If you want or need to unenroll for all the payments, you will want to do so by July 28, 2021, since the first payment is in July. If you are late, you will receive the payment and any additional ones until you unenroll - this process may take up to seven business days. 

If you who do not used the IRS portal to claim your advance Child Tax Credit benefits, you can claim the credit when you file your 2021 Return.

Tax Year 2021 advance CHILDucator Tool

Can You Claim the advance Child Tax Credit?

Start CHILDucator

Did You Know that is up to 60% less than TurboTax?
Dare to Compare Now

2021 advance Child Tax Credit