October 23, 2021


PC Tech Therapy Blog by Daniyal Computer

July 15 child tax credit: 3 ways to know if you qualify

4 min read


Child tax credit payments roll out in a little over a week. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

The first child tax credit payment is scheduled to arrive next Thursday, July 15, so now’s the time to see if you qualify. You can do so by using the newly launched IRS tools and portals which also let you manage your advance monthly payments. Although the majority of US households with kids will likely be eligible for money, there are several rules regarding age and income brackets. 

Parents with an income of less than $150,000 (married and filing jointly) will get a max of $300 for each child under the age of 6 and $250 for each child ages 6 to 17 in regular payments through the end of 2021. They’ll see the other half of the credit during tax season in 2022. Parents with dependents that are 18-24 years old will have to wait to file taxes in 2022 to get child tax credit money. 

Need the monthly checks? After checking your eligibility, you can read this FAQ on payments. We can also walk you through how to use ID.me to log in to the IRS tools, and explain how advanced payments can affect your taxes next year. We’ve also put together details on the third stimulus payment and the possibility of a fourth stimulus check. This story gets updates regularly. 

1. Check your mail often for an IRS letter on the child tax credit 

36 million families who may be eligible for a child tax credit payment received a letter from the IRS. That means it has determined that you could qualify for child tax credit money based on your 2019 or 2020 federal income tax return. If you don’t typically file taxes, the IRS can use any information you submitted online, using what’s called the nonfilers tool, to flag you for eligibility if you have kids. So yes, even if you didn’t file your taxes you may still get advanced monthly payments starting this month. 

But that’s just the first letter giving you a heads-up that you might qualify. The IRS plans to send a second letter to confirm eligibility and estimate how much child tax credit money you could receive. To recap, the tax credit is up to $3,600 per child under age 6, and up to $3,000 for each child ages 6 to 17. You’ll get half of the amount through monthly installments this year and the other half when you file your taxes next year. 

You don’t need to do anything if you receive this letter, except hold on to it in case you need to reference it later on. Those who didn’t get the letter, don’t worry quite yet. Here’s more to know about the IRS letter — and read on for more qualification tips.

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Child tax credit: Everything we know


2. Use the online eligibility assistant tool and IRS portals

The IRS has new portals and tools to help you get your child tax credit money. The interactive eligibility assistant is the best way for families to answer a few questions to see if they qualify — especially if you haven’t received a letter in the mail from the IRS. 

One online portal, the Child Tax Credit Update Portal, will soon let you add new information, correct or update outdated details like the number of kids you have or your income. Right now, you can use it to make decisions about opting out of the advance monthly payments and to add your direct deposit information.

There’s also a nonfiler tool for those who did not file a 2020 tax return and don’t plan to. While there has been some criticism about it not being user-friendly, lacking a Spanish version and not working well on smartphones, the nonfiler tool is one way low-income families can give information to the IRS to make sure they get a payment. 

$300 cash with calculator

If you receive child tax credit payments but aren’t eligible, you may have to pay the money back to the IRS. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

3. Go over child tax credit rules and calculate your total amount

Instead of waiting for the IRS to send you a letter, you can make an educated guess about your qualification status fairly easily. We think the fastest way is to use our child tax credit calculator. Just enter your yearly income and number of kids. Don’t worry — the calculator is private and anonymous and won’t store or use any of your personal information.

For the most part, the calculator tool will tell you what you need to know. However, there are some outlier qualifications that could crop up. For example, in some cases it’s possible your income will disqualify you

And while parents of new babies will generally qualify for the full amount, that could change if you have shared custody of a child. US citizenship also plays a role, so if any of your kids are adopted from another country, you’ll want to make sure you know all the rules that apply to kids

For more, check here to see if your state owes you money, how you could get money back for your child care costs and if you could get a refund for the unemployment tax break.

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