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

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 during the 2022 tax filing season. If the IRS has processed your 2020 tax return or 2019 tax return, these monthly payments will be made starting in July and through December 2021, based on the information contained in that return.

Note: Advance Child Tax Credit payment amounts are not based on the Credit for Other Dependents, which is not refundable. For more information about the Credit for Other Dependents, see IRS Publication 972, Child Tax Credit and Credit for Other Dependents PDF.

For more information about how your advance Child Tax Credit payments are calculated, see Topic D: Calculation of Advance Child Tax Credit Payments.

A2. Generally, nothing. If you are 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), you generally will receive those payments automatically without needing to take any additional action.

You must take action if you have not filed your 2020 tax return or 2019 tax return. The IRS has unveiled an online Non-Filer tool that will allow individuals who weren’t required to file (and have not filed) a tax return for 2020 to file a simplified tax return. This simplified tax return will allow eligible individuals to register for advance Child Tax Credit payments and the third Economic Impact Payment, as well as claim the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit. Taxpayers also can visit IRS.gov/filing for details about:

The fastest way to get advance payments is to file your tax return electronically and provide information about your financial account so that you can receive your payments by direct deposit. You can use a bank account, prepaid debit card, or mobile app for your direct deposit and will need to provide routing and account numbers. If you would like to have your payment direct deposited, many financial institutions will help you open a low-cost or no-cost bank account. Visit the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation website for details on opening an account online or use the FDIC's BankFind tool to locate an FDIC-insured bank. BankOn, American Bankers Association, Independent Community Bankers of America, National Credit Union Administration have lists of banks and credit unions that can open an account online.

For more information regarding eligibility and how advance Child Tax Credit payments are 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 have $0 in income, you can receive advance Child Tax Credit payments if you are eligible. 

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 the Non-Filer tool, IRS Free File, or Free File Fillable Forms to file your 2020 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?

A5. If you prefer 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 know you will not be eligible for the Child Tax Credit for your 2021 tax year, you can unenroll through the Child Tax Credit Update Portal (CTC UP). CTC UP will allow you to unenroll before the first advance Child Tax Credit payment is made.

For more information regarding CTC UP, see Topic F: Updating Your Child Tax Credit Information During 2021.

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

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

A7. Yes. In June, the IRS will send you Letter 6417. This letter will inform you of the amount of your estimated Child Tax Credit monthly payments. This letter will also indicate where you can find additional information about advance Child Tax Credit payments.

A8. You qualify for advance Child Tax Credit payments if you have a qualifying child. Also, you — or your spouse, if married filing a joint return — must have 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.

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.

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 receive during 2021 is based on the IRS’s estimate of your 2021 Child Tax Credit. If the total 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 during the 2022 tax filing season. For example, if you receive 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.

For this reason, you may wish to unenroll from receiving advance Child Tax Credit payments. You can unenroll through the Child Tax Credit Update Portal (CTC UP). For more information regarding the CTC UP, see Topic F: Updating Your Child Tax Credit Information During 2021.

A11. Yes. In January 2022, the IRS will send you 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 during the 2022 tax filing season.

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 it.

A13. The IRS launched on IRS.gov a Child Tax Credit Update Portal (CTC UP), which will allow you update information with the IRS.

CTC UP currently allows you to elect not to receive advance Child Tax Credit payments  and update your bank account information. The IRS will add features to CTC UP later this year, which are described in What if information about my bank, mailing address, income, or family has changed during 2021?

A14. The IRS urges everyone to be on the lookout for scam artists trying to use advance Child Tax Credit payments 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 will be releasing additional 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 this critical information about advance Child Tax Credit payments and the Child Tax Credit expansions for the 2021 tax year. 

A16. Most people who the Child Tax Credit Update Portal shows as eligible for advance CTC payments can currently update certain information and will be able to update additional information in the coming months.

*Date You Can Make Changes What You Can Do
June 21
  • Find out if you're eligible
  • Unenroll from payments
  • See a list of your payments
June 30
  • Make changes to your bank information for your payments beginning in August
August 20
  • Make changes to your address
Fall
  • Make changes to income
  • Make changes to your dependents or filing status

* Dates subject to change

A17. Yes, but not automatically. If you are eligible to receive advance CTC payments, you can provide us an estimate of your 2021 income in the Child Tax Credit Update Portal (CTC UP). You can use this online portal to estimate the income you plan to report on your 2021 tax return. We will use that income estimate to recalculate our estimate of your 2021 Child Tax Credit and the amount of your monthly advance Child Tax Credit payments.

Consider providing us an estimate of your 2021 income if either:

  • You expect your modified adjusted gross income in 2021 to be higher than the threshold below.
  • Your modified adjusted gross income in 2020 was higher than the threshold below.
2021 Filing Status 2021 Modified Adjusted Gross Income Threshold
Single or Married Filing Separately $75,000
Head of Household $112,500
Married Filing Jointly or Qualifying Widower $150,000

Your payments may be lowered if you estimate having more income in 2021. Your payments may be increased if you estimate having less income in 2021.

If you filed a joint return for 2020, you can only update your income in CTC UP if you plan to file a joint return for 2021 with the same spouse. If you will not be filing a joint return with the same spouse for 2021 and if your income significantly increased, you should consider unenrolling from advance Child Tax Credit payments to avoid receiving advance Child Tax Credit payments that may need to be repaid when you file your 2021 tax return.  If you do not receive any advance Child Tax Credit payments for a qualifying child you will claim in 2021,  you may claim the full amount of your allowable Child Tax Credit for that child when you file your 2021 tax return.