Non-traditional families may qualify for advance child tax credit payments

COVID Tax Tip 2021-150, October 12, 2021

Families come in all shapes and sizes – and some families may not realize they could receive advance payments of the 2021 child tax credit in the last months of this year. The IRS urges grandparents, foster parents or people caring for siblings or other relatives to check their eligibility.

For tax year 2021, families claiming the child tax credit will receive:

  • Up to $3,000 per qualifying child between the ages of 6 and 17 at the end of 2021
  • Up to $3,600 per qualifying child under age 6 at the end of 2021

The total of the advance payments, paid in 2021, will be up to 50 percent of the child tax credit.

A qualifying child can be a filer's:

  • son or daughter
  • stepchild
  • eligible foster child
  • siblings, including stepsiblings or half-siblings
  • a descendent of any of the above – for example a grandchild, niece or nephew.

Generally, a family qualifies for advance child tax credit payments if they have a qualifying child. Also, an individual — or their spouse, if married filing a joint return — must have their main home in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia for more than half the year. In addition to the relationship requirements above, the child must also satisfy the following conditions:

  1. For tax year 2021, a qualifying child is an individual who does not turn 18 before January 1, 2022 and the individual does not provide more than one-half of his or her own support during 2021.
  2. The individual lives with the taxpayer for more than one-half of tax year 2021. For exceptions to this requirement, see IRS Publication 972, Child Tax Credit and Credit for Other Dependents PDF.
  3. The individual is properly claimed as the taxpayer's dependent. For more information about how to properly claim an individual as a dependent, see IRS Publication 501, Dependents, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information. PDF
  4. The individual does not file a joint return with the individual's spouse for tax year 2021 or files it only to claim a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax paid.
  5. The individual was a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or U.S. resident alien. For more information on this condition, see IRS Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens. PDF

How to get advance payments

The IRS's Non-filer Sign-up Tool helps people who normally don't have to file a tax return complete a simplified return to get advance child tax credit payments, the recovery rebate credit and Economic Impact Payments. The IRS tool is available through October 15, 2021.

People who are required to file a tax return should check IRS.gov in coming weeks. The IRS Child Tax Credit Update Portal will be updated to allow families to inform the IRS about the qualifying children they will claim on their 2021 tax return. The IRS can then adjust the family's estimated 2021 child tax credit – and therefore adjust the amount of monthly advance child tax credit payments.

If a family doesn't receive advance child tax credit payments for a qualifying child, they can claim for 2021, they may claim the full amount of the allowable child tax credit for that child by filing a 2021 tax return.

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