2021 Child Tax Credit and Advance Child Tax Credit Payments — Topic A: General Information

These updated FAQs were released to the public in Fact Sheet 2022-29PDF, May 20, 2022.

A1. Advance Child Tax Credit payments are early payments from the IRS of 50 percent of the estimated amount of the Child Tax Credit that you may properly claim on your 2021 tax return. If the IRS processed your 2020 tax return or 2019 tax return before the end of June 2021, these monthly payments began in July and continued through December 2021, based on the information contained in that return.

Note: Advance Child Tax Credit payment amounts were not based on the Credit for Other Dependents, which is not refundable. For more information about the Credit for Other Dependents, see IRS Schedule 8812 (Form 1040), Credits for Qualifying Children and Other Dependents.

A2. Generally, nothing. If you were eligible to receive advance Child Tax Credit payments based on your 2020 tax return or 2019 tax return (including information you entered into the Non-Filer tool for Economic Impact Payments on IRS.gov in 2020, or the Child Tax Credit Non-filer Sign-up Tool in 2021), you generally received those payments automatically without needing to take any additional action.

Disbursement of advance Child Tax Credit payments began in July and continued on a monthly basis through December 2021, generally based on the information contained in your 2019 or 2020 federal income tax return.  If you are eligible for the Child Tax Credit, but did not receive advance Child Tax Credit payments, you can claim the full credit amount when you file your 2021 tax return. 

​​​​​For more information regarding eligibility and how advance Child Tax Credit payments have been disbursed, see Topic B: Eligibility for Advance Child Tax Credit Payments and the 2021 Child Tax Credit and Topic E: Advance Payment Process of the Child Tax Credit.​​​

A3. No. Even if you had $0 in income, you could have received advance Child Tax Credit payments if you were eligible. 

Disbursement of advance Child Tax Credit payments began in July and continued on a monthly basis through December 2021, generally based on the information contained in your 2019 or 2020 federal income tax return.  If you are eligible for the Child Tax Credit, but did not receive advance Child Tax Credit payments, you can claim the full credit amount when you file your 2021 tax return.  

For information regarding eligibility, see Topic B: Eligibility for Advance Child Tax Credit Payments and the 2021 Child Tax Credit.

A4. If you cannot or choose not to use IRS Free File, or Free File Fillable Forms to file your 2021 tax return, there are various types of tax return preparers, including certified public accountants, enrolled agents, attorneys, and others who can assist you in filing your return. For more information about these and other return preparers who might be right for you, visit Need someone to prepare your tax return?

Disbursement of advance Child Tax Credit payments began in July and continued on a monthly basis through December 2021, generally based on the information contained in your 2019 or 2020 federal income tax return.  If you are eligible for the Child Tax Credit, but did not receive advance Child Tax Credit payments, you can claim the full credit amount when you file your 2021 tax return.

A5. If you preferred not to receive monthly advance Child Tax Credit payments because you would rather claim the full credit when you file your 2021 tax return, or you knew you were not eligible for the Child Tax Credit for your 2021 tax year, the IRS provided an option to unenroll from advance Child Tax Credit payments through the Child Tax Credit Update Portal (CTC UP). 

A6. The IRS began disbursing advance Child Tax Credit payments on July 15. After that, payments were disbursed on a monthly basis through December 2021.

For more information regarding how advance Child Tax Credit payments were disbursed, see Topic E: Advance Payment Process of the Child Tax Credit.

A7. Yes. In June 2021, the IRS sent Letter 6417. This letter informed recipients of the amount of their estimated Child Tax Credit monthly payments. This letter also indicated where recipients could find additional information about advance Child Tax Credit payments.

A8. You qualified for advance Child Tax Credit payments if you had a qualifying child. Also, you — or your spouse, if married filing a joint return — must have had your main home in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia for more than half the year. Your main home can be any location where you regularly live. Your main home may be your house, apartment, mobile home, shelter, temporary lodging, or other location and doesn’t need to be the same physical location throughout the taxable year. You don’t need a permanent address to get these payments. If you are temporarily away from your main home because of illness, education, business, vacation, or military service, you are generally treated as living in your main home.

Disbursement of advance Child Tax Credit payments began in July and continued on a monthly basis through December 2021, generally based on the information contained in your 2019 or 2020 federal income tax return.  If you are eligible for the Child Tax Credit, but did not receive advance Child Tax Credit payments, you can claim the full credit amount when you file your 2021 tax return.

For more information regarding eligibility for advance Child Tax Credit payments, and the Child Tax Credit generally, see ​​​​​​Topic B: Eligibility for Advance Child Tax Credit Payments and the 2021 Child Tax Credit.

For information on how the amount of your Child Tax Credit could be reduced based on the amount of your income, see Topic C: Calculation of the 2021 Child Tax Credit.

A9. No.  However, if you fail to properly reconcile your advance Child Tax Credit payments with the amount of Child Tax Credit for which you are eligible on your 2021 federal income tax return, processing of your return by the IRS will be delayed.

For more information regarding how to reconcile your advance Child Tax Credit payments with your Child Tax Credit on your 2021 tax return, see Topic H: Reconciling Your Advance Child Tax Credit Payments on Your 2021 Tax Return.

A10. No. Advance Child Tax Credit payments are not income and will not be reported as income on your 2021 tax return. Advance Child Tax Credit payments are advance payments of your tax year 2021 Child Tax Credit.

However, the total amount of advance Child Tax Credit payments that you received during 2021 was based on the IRS’s estimate of your 2021 Child Tax Credit. If the total of your advance Child Tax Credit payments is greater than the Child Tax Credit amount that you are allowed to claim on your 2021 tax return, you may have to repay the excess amount on your 2021 tax return. For example, if you received advance Child Tax Credit payments for two qualifying children properly claimed on your 2020 tax return, but you no longer have qualifying children in 2021, the advance Child Tax Credit payments that you received based on those children are added to your 2021 income tax unless you qualify for repayment protection. For more information regarding your eligibility for repayment protection, and how to reconcile your advance Child Tax Credit payments with your Child Tax Credit on your 2021 tax return, see Topic H: Reconciling Your Advance Child Tax Credit Payments on Your 2021 Tax Return.

A11. Yes. In January 2022, the IRS sent Letter 6419 to provide the total amount of advance Child Tax Credit payments that were disbursed to you during 2021. Please keep this letter regarding your advance Child Tax Credit payments with your tax records. You may need to refer to this letter when you file your 2021 tax return.

For more information regarding this letter and how to reconcile your advance Child Tax Credit payments with your Child Tax Credit on your 2021 return, see Topic H: Reconciling Your Advance Child Tax Credit Payments on Your 2021 Tax Return.

A12. No. Advance Child Tax Credit payments cannot be counted as income when determining if you or anyone else is eligible for benefits or assistance, or how much you or anyone else can receive, under any federal program or under any state or local program financed in whole or in part with federal funds. These programs also cannot count advance Child Tax Credit payments as a resource for purposes of determining eligibility for at least 12 months after you receive them.

The IRS launched on IRS.gov a Child Tax Credit Update Portal (CTC UP), which allowed you to update information with the IRS. The portal is no longer available, and the IRS has completed disbursing advance Child Tax Credit payments.

If you file a 2021 return, the IRS will use the bank account information you enter on your tax return to send your refund, if you are receiving one.

A14. The IRS has urged everyone to be on the lookout for scam artists trying to use advance Child Tax Credit payments or the Child Tax Credit as a cover for schemes to steal personal information and money.  The IRS doesn't initiate contact by email, text messages, or social media channels to request personal or financial information – even information related to advance Child Tax Credit payments. Also, watch out for emails with attachments or links claiming to have special information about advance Child Tax Credit payments or refunds of the Child Tax Credit.

If you receive a suspicious IRS-related email, see Report Phishing and Online Scams for additional information.

A15. The IRS has materials and information that can be easily shared by social media, email, and other methods. The IRS urges employers, community groups, non-profits, associations, education groups, and anyone else with connections to people with children to share information about the Child Tax Credit expansions for the 2021 tax year. You can find materials to share at 2021 Child Tax Credit and Advance Child Tax Credit Payments: Resources and Guidance.

The IRS will continue to provide materials on how to claim the 2021 Child Tax Credit, as well as how to reconcile your advance Child Tax Credit payments with the amount of 2021 Child Tax Credit for which you are eligible.

For more information regarding how to reconcile your advance Child Tax Credit payments with your Child Tax Credit on your 2021 tax return, see Topic H: Reconciling Your Advance Child Tax Credit Payments on Your 2021 Tax Return.

Disbursement of advance Child Tax Credit payments began in July and continued on a monthly basis through December 2021, generally based on the information contained in your 2019 or 2020 federal income tax return.  If you are eligible for the Child Tax Credit, but did not receive advance Child Tax Credit payments, you can claim the full credit amount when you file your 2021 tax return.

A16. Updates made by 11:59 pm Eastern Time on November 29 were reflected in the monthly payment disbursed in December. Updates to the number of qualifying children or filing status should be made when you file your 2021 tax return.

*Date You Can Make Changes What You Can Do
June 21, 2021
  • Find out if you're eligible
  • Unenroll from payments
  • See a list of your payments
June 30, 2021
  • Make changes to your bank information for your payments beginning in August
August 20, 2021
  • Make changes to your address
November 1, 2021
  • Make changes to your income
November 29, 2021
  • Final date to update information on Child Tax Credit Update Portal to impact advance Child Tax Credit payments disbursed in December. 
  • Child Tax Credit Update Portal available in Spanish
(The Update Portal is no longer available.)

* Dates subject to change