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

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

If you have filed a 2019 tax return, but not a 2020 tax return, you should file a 2020 tax return as soon as possible to provide the IRS with more current information. You also will be able to provide updated information later this year by using the Child Tax Credit Update Portal (CTC UP). If you have filed a 2020 tax return, you will also be able to provide updated information by using CTC UP.

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

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

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 are 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 may be 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 are 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 will not subject the payment to offset with respect to the federal taxes. 

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

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 are 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 send you may exceed the amount of Child Tax Credit that you will be allowed to claim on your 2021 tax return next year.

You can unenroll from receiving advance Child Tax Credit payments by using the Child Tax Credit Update Portal (CTC UP). For more information regarding CTC UP, see Topic F: Updating Your Child Tax Credit Information During 2021.

A7. You should take one of the following actions:

  • Agree with your qualifying child’s other parent to allow you to claim that child for the Child Tax Credit for 2021. You must 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.
  • Consider 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 will be reduced to take into account your unenrollment or removal of that child.

If you take 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 next year.

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

A8. If you have reported that you’re a victim of tax-related identity theft, the IRS will not disburse advance Child Tax Credit payments to you until your tax-related identity theft issue has been resolved. More details about tax-related identity theft will provided through these questions and answers.

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 Affidavit PDF through IdentityTheft.gov or by filing the Form 14039 by paper.

The IRS will not disburse advance Child Tax Credit payments to you until your tax-related identity theft issue has been resolved. If you do not receive 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.

A10. We will use your 2019 or 2020 tax return, or information you entered into the Non-Filer tool on IRS.gov in 2020 to register for Economic Impact Payments, to determine if you qualify and automatically enroll you. You do 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 can still sign up for the Child Tax Credit payments using the Non-Filer Sign Up Tool.

A11. The IRS will send your advance Child Tax Credit payment as a paper check by mail if the IRS does 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 will reissue your payment as a paper check by mail. For more information on how to provide or update your bank account information, see FAQ F1: What if information about my bank, mailing address, income, or family has changed during 2021?

A12. The amount that shows on the Child Tax Credit Update Portal (CTC UP) is an incorrect amount. The correct amount of your advance Child Tax Credit payment is the amount that you received as a paper check by mail. The IRS is working to correct this error on CTC UP.

Additional Information: If you had a closed or invalid bank account on file with the IRS, the IRS will reissue your advance Child Tax Credit payment as a paper check by mail. If CTC UP shows an incorrect payment amount, this incorrect payment amount often will be double the amount you expected to receive. In other words, this incorrect payment amount will equal the sum of the amount you received by mail and the amount that the IRS first attempted to send by direct deposit but could not.