The Internal Revenue Service has started sending letters to more than 36 million American families who, based on tax returns filed with the agency, may be eligible to receive monthly Child Tax Credit payments starting July 15, 2021. Here’s what families need to know:
The expanded and newly-advanceable Child Tax Credit was authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act, enacted in March. The letters are going to families who may be eligible based on information they included in either their 2019 or 2020 federal income tax return or who used the Non-Filers tool on IRS.gov last year to register for an Economic Impact Payment.
Families who are eligible for advance Child Tax Credit payments will receive a second, personalized letter listing an estimate of their monthly payment, which begins July 15.
Most families do not need to take any action to get their payment. Normally, the IRS will calculate the payment amount based on the 2020 tax return. If that return is not available, either because it has not yet been filed or has not yet been processed, the IRS will instead determine the payment amount using the 2019 return.
Eligible families will begin receiving advance payments, either by direct deposit or check. The payment will be up to $300 per month for each qualifying child under age 6 and up to $250 per month for each qualifying child ages 6 to 17. The IRS will issue advance Child Tax Credit payments on July 15, August 13, September 15, October 15, November 15, and December 15.
Eligible families should file tax returns soon
The IRS urges individuals and families who haven’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.
Filing soon will also ensure that the IRS has their most current banking information, as well as key details about qualifying children. This includes people who don’t normally file a tax return, such as families experiencing homelessness, the rural poor, and other underserved groups.
For most people, the fastest and easiest way to file a return is by using the Free File system, available only on IRS.gov.
Throughout the summer, the IRS will be adding additional tools and online resources to help with the advance Child Tax Credit. One of these tools will enable families to unenroll from receiving these advance payments and receive the full amount of the credit when they file their 2021 return next year instead.
Additionally, later this year, individuals and families will also be able to go to IRS.gov and use a Child Tax Credit Update Portal to notify IRS of changes in their income, filing status, or number of qualifying children; update their direct deposit information, and make other changes to ensure they are receiving the right amount as quickly as possible.
New Online Tool Available
An online Non-filer Sign-up tool will be available to help eligible families who don’t normally file tax returns register for the monthly Advance Child Tax Credit payments and is scheduled to go live on the IRS.gov website on July 15.
This tool provides a free and easy way for eligible people who don’t make enough income to have an income tax return-filing obligation to provide the IRS the basic information needed—name, address, and Social Security numbers – to figure and issue their Advance Child Tax Credit payments. Often, these individuals and families receive little or no income, including those experiencing homelessness and other underserved groups.
The Non-filer Sign-up tool is for people who did not file a tax return for 2019 or 2020 and who did not use the IRS Non-filers tool last year to register for Economic Impact Payments. The tool enables them to provide required information about themselves, their qualifying children age 17 and under, their other dependents, and their direct deposit bank information so the IRS can quickly and easily deposit the payments directly into their checking or savings account.
This tool, an update of last year’s IRS Non-filers tool, is also designed to help eligible individuals who don’t normally file income tax returns register for the $1,400 third round of Economic Impact Payments (also known as stimulus checks) and claim the Recovery Rebate Credit for any amount of the first two rounds of Economic Impact Payments they may have missed.
Eligible families who already filed or plan to file 2019 or 2020 income tax returns should not use this tool. Once the IRS processes their 2019 or 2020 tax return, the information will be used to determine eligibility and issue advance payments. Families who want to claim other tax benefits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit for low- and moderate-income families, should not use this tool and instead file a regular tax return.
Other useful new online tools, include:
- An interactive Child Tax Credit eligibility tool to help families determine whether they qualify for the Advance Child Tax Credit payments.
- Another tool, the Child Tax Credit Update Portal, will initially enable anyone who has been determined to be eligible for advance payments to unenroll/ to opt-out of the advance payment program. Later this year, it will allow people to check on the status of their payments, make updates to their information, and be available in Spanish. More details will be available soon about the online Child Tax Credit Update Portal.
Child Tax Credit Changes
The American Rescue Plan raised the maximum Child Tax Credit in 2021 to $3,600 for qualifying children under the age of 6 and to $3,000 per child for qualifying children between ages 6 and 17. Before 2021, the credit was worth up to $2,000 per eligible child, and 17 year-olds were not considered as qualifying children for the credit.
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 extra $1,000 in modified AGI.
In addition, the entire 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.
Watch Out for Scams
As always, everyone should be on the lookout for scams related to both Advance Child Tax Credit payments and Economic Impact Payments. The only way to get either of these benefits is by either filing a tax return with the IRS or registering online through the Non-filer Sign-up tool, exclusively on IRS.gov. Any other option is a scam.
Be sure to watch out for scams using email, phone calls, or texts related to the payments. Remember: The IRS never sends unsolicited electronic communications asking anyone to open attachments or visit a non-governmental website.
Help is Just a Phone Call Away
Don’t hesitate to contact the office for the most up-to-date information on the Child Tax Credit and advance payments.