Child tax credit 2021: Calculate how much money you’ll get

Calculate how much money you could get from the new child tax credit.


Angela Lang/CNET

As the IRS continues sending out the stimulus checks, you have something else to look forward to this summer. The new stimulus bill not only includes $1,400 checks for eligible people but also expands the child tax credit (CTC) for eligible families, bringing you as much as $3,600 per qualified child.

However, calculating how much money you should expect is complicated. The final sum factors in how many children you have and their ages, with different sums going to different age groups. Your family total will also phase out the higher your yearly income (AGI). Your CTC payment will also be split up between several deliveries in 2021 and the rest in 2022 — our calculator below will tell you how much to expect each year. We’ll also explain what happens if your child reaches one of the age cutoffs between 2021 and 2022.

The 2021 portion of the new CTC payments are expected to start arriving in July on a periodic basis and last through Dec. 31, but a specific date hasn’t been established yet. We’ll tell you what you need to know right now. While you’re here, here are 9 unusual stimulus check facts, what we know about a fourth stimulus check and how to track down your third payment.

Calculate how much money you could get from the 2021 child tax credit

Under the new bill, child tax credit payments for 2021 have significantly increased from a maximum of $2,000 per child under the age of 17 to up to $3,600 per child 5 and under, and $3,000 for kids between the ages of 6 and 17. If you have a dependent who is 18 years old, you can get a $500 total payment for them — this also includes dependents ages 19-24 who are currently full-time college students.

Your income matters, too. If your AGI is equal to or less than $75,000 (single filers), $112,500 (head of household) or $150,000 (filing jointly), you’ll receive the full amount. If your income is higher than that amount, your CTC payments will begin to phase out by $50 for every $1,000 of income over those threshold amounts, according to Joanna Powell, managing director and certified financial planner at CBIZ.

Note that this calculator should be used as an estimate only — the IRS will determine the final amount. Also, it does not store any data you input.

Important: The results here are based on our current knowledge of the law, but should be treated as broad estimates only. Consult a financial planner for a more personalized estimate.

Child tax credit calculator for 2021

Use details from your 2019 or 2020 tax return.

1. Choose your filing status below.

What if your CTC payments don’t match the estimate above?

If the CTC payments you receive starting this summer don’t match the estimate, there could be a number of reasons why.

Taxes: You need to file your 2020 taxes in order to get the credit if you’re a nonfiler. The IRS will automatically make the payments for those who have their taxes filed by the May 17 tax due date, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said. So if you don’t have your tax return submitted by this time, the IRS won’t know to send you a payment. Also, if you plan to file a tax extension, you’ll likely be able to use the IRS portal, where you can go to update your information in case you’ve gained dependents since the last tax filing.

Your child reaches a different age bracket this year: If you have a 5-year-old child turning 6 years old by the end of the year, the total payment amount you could get for that child is $3,000. If you have a 17-year-old who turns 18 years of age before the end of the year, you would receive $500 total for that dependent, instead of $3,000. Here’s more information about qualifications your child must meet for you to get the advance payments. Also, if you have a dependent who is a full-time college student and turns 25 this year, you won’t receive any payment for them.


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What if you start making more money after the CTC payments start?

If you start receiving advance payments this year for your 2020 taxes, but you get a new job making more money, you’ll likely be able to use the IRS portal to update your information, according to Garrett Watson, a senior policy analyst at Tax Foundation. Doing so would lower the payment amounts you’d receive if your new income reaches the phase-out level (see above).

If you wait until 2022 to update your information when you file your taxes and you continue to receive the full amount based on your lower income, you would either have to return the excess credit on your 2021 tax return next spring, Watson says, or you’ll get a smaller amount on your refund next year.

So far, the IRS hasn’t released any further details about the portal, but Rettig said it will launch by July 1.

For more information, here’s when the 2021 child tax credits could be sent, who qualifies for the CTC and eligibility requirements kids must meet. Also, if you share custody of a child, here’s everything you need to know about getting the payments.


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