2021 Child Tax Credit and Advance Child Tax Credit Payments — Topic G: Receiving Advance Child Tax Credit Payments

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

A1. First, you should review the Letter 6417 that the IRS mailed to you before you received your first advance Child Tax Credit payment. This letter informed you of your estimated Child Tax Credit amount for tax year 2021 and the amounts of your estimated advance Child Tax Credit payments.

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 part or all of your advance Child Tax Credit payments, you can claim the full credit amount when you file your 2021 tax return during the 2022 tax filing season. 

A2. No. Advance Child Tax Credit payments were not reduced (that is, offset) for overdue taxes from previous years or other federal or state debts that you owed.

However, if you receive a refund when you file your 2021 tax return, any remaining Child Tax Credit amounts included in your refund may be subject to offset for tax debts or other federal or state debts you owe.

A4. Yes. Advance Child Tax Credit payments were not exempt from garnishment by non-federal creditors under federal law. Therefore, to the extent permitted by the laws of your state and local government, your advance Child Tax Credit payments might have been subject to garnishment by your state, local government, and private creditors, including pursuant to a court order involving a non-federal party (which can include fines related to a crime, administrative court fees, restitution, and other court-ordered debts).

Some states and financial institutions have chosen to act to protect these payments, however, and these payments were still protected from offset by the federal government. For example, if a taxpayer has a judgment against them obtained by a private party, but also owes assessed federal taxes, the IRS did not subject the payment to offset with respect to the federal taxes. 

A5. No. Advance Child Tax Credit payments were not reduced (that is, offset) for overdue taxes from previous years or other federal or state debts that your spouse owed.

However, if you file a joint 2021 tax return with your spouse and receive a refund, any remaining Child Tax Credit amounts included in your refund may be subject to offset for tax debts or other federal or state debts your spouse owes. You can file Form 8379 with your 2021 tax return.

A6. You were not entitled to advance Child Tax Credit payments. You may be eligible to claim the Child Tax Credit when you file your 2021 tax return, but may not be able to claim all $3,000 or $3,600 per qualifying child because your main home will not be in the United States for more than half of 2021. The advance payments we sent to you might have exceeded the amount of Child Tax Credit that you will be allowed to claim on your 2021 tax return. For more information, see Topic H: Reconciling Your Advance Child Tax Credit Payments on Your 2021 Return.

A7. You could have taken one of the following actions:

  • Agreed with your qualifying child’s other parent to allow you to claim that child for the Child Tax Credit for 2021. You need to receive from your child’s other parent a signed Form 8332, Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent, and attach it to your 2021 tax return on which you claim the Child Tax Credit.
  • Considered using the Child Tax Credit Update Portal (CTC UP) to unenroll from receiving advance Child Tax Credit payments, or to remove that child from your Child Tax Credit information provided to the IRS. As a result, your future advance Child Tax Credit payment amounts would have been reduced to take into account your unenrollment or removal of that child.  (The Update Portal is no longer available.)

If you took neither action, you may need to repay to the IRS the amount of advance Child Tax Credit payments you received that are based on that child when you file your 2021 tax return. This is because a qualifying child is one who lives with you for more than half the year, among other factors. If the child’s residency changed, they may no longer be your qualifying child.

A8. If you reported that you are a victim of tax-related identity theft, the IRS would not have disbursed advance Child Tax Credit payments to you until your tax-related identity theft issue had been resolved.

A9. If you believe you are a victim of tax-related identity theft, and have not reported the tax-related identity theft issue to the IRS, you should take steps to protect yourself. Notify the IRS by filing a Form 14039, Identity Theft AffidavitPDF through IdentityTheft.gov or by filing the Form 14039 by paper.

The IRS would not have disbursed advance Child Tax Credit payments to you until your tax-related identity theft issue had been resolved. If you did not receive advance Child Tax Credit payments for a qualifying child you will claim in 2021, you can claim the full amount of your allowable Child Tax Credit for that child when you file your 2021 tax return.

A10. The IRS used information from your processed 2019 or 2020 tax return, information you entered into the Non-Filer Tool on IRS.gov in 2020 to register for Economic Impact Payments, or information you entered into the Child Tax Credit Non-filer Sign-up Tool in 2021 to determine if you qualified and automatically enroll you.  You did not need to take any additional action.

If you did not have to file your taxes this year or last year, and you did not register for Economic Impact Payments last year, you may be able to claim the Child Tax Credit for any amount you did not receive when you file your 2021 tax return. 

A11. The IRS sent your advance Child Tax Credit payment as a paper check by mail if we did not have your bank account information to send you a payment by direct deposit.

Also, if you had a closed or invalid bank account on file, the IRS reissued your payment as a paper check by mail.