Child tax credit: $500, $3,000 or $3,600 per kid? We break down your monthly total

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

Sarah Tew/CNET

Within the next 12 months, you could get a total of seven checks as part of the revised (and expanded!) child tax credit for 2021. Not only will you get more money per child this time around, but you’ll also receive your check sooner. However, the math is complicated, the qualification rules confusing and the payment schedule split into uneven chunks. For example, did you know that you could get less if your adjusted gross income for 2021 is above a certain threshold

CNET’s child tax calculator below will tell you how much to expect per payment and explain what happens if your child ages out of a payment bracket. There are some rules parents who share custody of a kid should know, and additional facts for parents of 2021 babies. You shouldn’t need to file an amended tax form if you already submitted your taxes.

One other thing to note is that the IRS will share more information about child tax credit payments after it processes more stimulus check “plus-up payments” and 2020 tax returns. After calculating your estimated child tax credit, keep reading for more payment details. Then, see if your state owes you extra money and new rules to save on COBRA, FSA and insurance costs. Here’s what we know about a fourth stimulus check and student loan forgiveness. This story has been updated.

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Child tax credit: How much are you getting?


Child tax credit calculator: Here’s how much money you’ll get

The new child tax credit raises the 2020 limits from up to $2,000 per child to a maximum of $3,600 — but the situation gets complicated, fast. Qualified children aged 5 and under count for $3,600. Kids between 6 and 17 years old count for $3,000 maximum per child, and both 18-year-olds and full-time college students 24 and under can bring parents a $500 one-time payment. 

Enter your details below, including your adjusted gross income, or AGI, to see your payment breakdown. This calculator does not store or use your data. The results are based on our current knowledge of the law and should be treated as broad estimates only (the IRS will determine the final amount). We suggest consulting a financial professional 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.

Note: If your AGI is equal to or less than $75,000 as a single filer, $112,500 as a head of household or $150,000 filing jointly, you’ll receive the full amount. If your income is higher, your child tax credit payments will begin to phase out by $50 for every $1,000 of income over the threshold.

What if your kid ages out of a payment bracket?

If you have a 5-year-old turning 6 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 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 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.

Child tax credit info for parents of 2021 babies

Children born in 2021 make you eligible to receive the 2021 tax credit for $3,600 per child (that’s up to $7,200 for twins). That’s on top of payments for any other qualified child dependents you claim. Here’s our guide for parents of 2021 babies, including what parents of adopted infants should know.


If you had a baby any time in 2021, you’ll be able to claim up to $3,600 for your new addition.

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Important overpayment and income facts to know

Your family’s eligibility is determined in large part by your adjusted gross income. So what happens if you get a new job or start making more money in 2021? What happens if the payments have already gone out and you spent the money?

The IRS has a plan for this, a child tax credit portal portal the agency will make available by July 1 so you can update your information. If you need to make an adjustment, it will lower the payment amounts you’d receive if your new income reaches the phaseout level, according to Garrett Watson, a senior policy analyst at Tax Foundation.

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 money on your 2021 tax return next spring, according to Watson, accept a smaller 2021 refund or owe more in taxes.

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Stimulus plus-up payments: What you need to know


How your 2020 taxes could affect your child tax credit total

You need to file your 2020 taxes 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, the IRS’ 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 update your information in case you’ve gained dependents since the last tax filing.

Additional qualifications for your dependents

There are some specific rules regarding qualifications not just for parents and caregivers, but for the children, too. Here’s what to know about dependent qualifications for the child tax credit.

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