October 24, 2021


PC Tech Therapy Blog by Daniyal Computer

Why and how to opt out of advance child tax credit payments. Everything to know

5 min read


It’s a good idea to plan for how you would like to spend your child tax credit money now. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

You might’ve heard about the new child tax credit portal that was launched by the IRS early this week, but do you know how it might benefit you? The online tool lets you opt out of the automatic monthly payments that are being sent to qualifying households starting July 15. If you do choose to unenroll from the advance payment program this year, you can claim the full amount when you file your tax return next spring.

Even though the advance tax relief this year is an economic boon for many households, there might be a few reasons why unenrolling is a good idea. For one, if you know your family circumstances like income or number of dependents are changing this year, maybe you don’t want the hassle of updating your details online. Or if you know those changes could result in an IRS payment, maybe you don’t want to have to owe the tax agency money in 2022. 

To opt out, you’ll have to use the Child Tax Credit Update Portal. We’ll explain other reasons for wanting to unenroll, as well as the extra steps married couples filing jointly will have to take. Here’s also how you can claim up to $16,000 in child care expenses as a tax break next year, and some ideas for the best ways to spend your child tax credit money when it comes. This story gets frequent updates.

How do I opt out of the monthly child tax credit payments in 2021?

1. Head to the new Child Tax Credit Update Portal and click the Unenroll from Advance Payments button.

2. On the next page, sign in using your IRS or ID.me account. If you have neither, the page will walk you through setting up an ID.me account.

3. On the next page, you can see your eligibility and unenroll from the monthly payments. 

Why would my family opt out?

Here are three major reasons why unenrolling from the monthly child tax credit payment program may be a good idea: 

  • You’d rather have one large payment next year instead of seven smaller payments spanning 2021 and 2022. This could be the case for families saving up for a big expense or those who have budgeted for that money to pay off outstanding debt. 
  • You know your household circumstances or tax situation will change and don’t want to deal with having to update your information in the portal.
  • You’re concerned the IRS might send you an overpayment based on changes to your situation this year, and you don’t want to worry about paying that money back next year.

Is there a deadline for opting out? Can I re-enroll?

You can opt out any time in 2021 to not receive your remaining monthly payments. To unenroll, the IRS said you must opt out three days before the first Thursday of the month to not receive the next month’s payment. See the chart below for more. If you miss that deadline, the IRS said you will get the next scheduled advance payment until the agency can process your request to unenroll.

The IRS said currently if you unenroll, you can’t re-enroll. Starting in late September, you will be able to opt back in.

Child tax credit payment unenrollment dates

Payment Month Unenrollment Deadline Payment Date
July June 28 July 15
August Aug. 2 Aug. 13
September Aug. 30 Sept. 15
October Oct. 4 Oct. 15
November Nov. 1 Nov. 15
December Nov. 29 Dec. 15

Do both parents have to opt out using the portal?

If you are married and file jointly, both you and your spouse need to opt out. If only one of you opts out, you will get half of the joint payment you were supposed to receive with your spouse, the IRS said.

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If my family defers this year’s payments, when will we receive the child tax credit?

Those who choose to decline this year’s child tax credit installments (amounting to half the total) will still receive the same amount of money in the end, but are simply delaying when they receive it. 

Be aware that if you unenroll from getting the monthly child tax credits from July through December, you won’t get your full payment — or any payment at all — until after the IRS processes your 2021 tax return in 2022. The total amount will then arrive with your tax refund or can be used to offset any taxes you owe at that time; you’ll be in a similar situation to those people who had to claim missing stimulus checks this year.

So if you have a child who’s 5 years old or younger by the end of 2021 and your income meets the requirements, you’ll get $3,600 total when you file your taxes in 2022. However, if you choose to receive monthly payments, you’d get six installments of $300 payments each month this year and another $1,800 with your tax refund next year instead. You can use our child tax credit 2021 calculator to estimate how much you should get.

What else will the Update Portal allow me to do?

The portal will also soon be used to update the IRS with any changes that have happened since you last filed your taxes. For example, if you had a new baby in 2021, gained a new qualified dependent or if your income changed recently, the IRS wouldn’t have that on file yet. 

Before the end of the year, the IRS will give the portal more functionality to allow you to update your mailing address and bank information, add or subtract qualifying children, or report a change in your marital status or income. 

What if my family doesn’t normally file taxes? 

If you filed your taxes before the May 17 deadline, then you’ll automatically receive the advance monthly payments starting July 15. An online IRS portal for nonfilers is also available for those families that don’t normally file an income tax return so they can register with the agency and receive their payments.

For more child tax credit information, what to know about the child tax credit payment timeline and how to estimate your total payment using CNET’s child tax credit calculator

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