Child tax credit checks for how much? Here’s your family’s monthly payment

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

Sarah Tew/CNET

The good news is, the IRS is on track to make good on monthly advance payments of the newly revised 2021 child tax credit. Not only will qualified families receive a higher maximum payment per child of $3,600 rather than $2,000 — even 2021 babies — but the IRS will also begin to send payments in July. Ordinarily, this tax credit would come in a lump sum along with any tax refund when you file the following year. In other words, you’ll start receiving your 2021 tax credit in 2021, not in 2022.

So what’s the bad news? You’ll actually only get half your money this year and the other half later. There’s an income limit that hinges on your adjusted gross income, and kids of different ages count toward different amounts. If you child has a birthday somewhere in between, you may get less, too. All of this makes figuring out how much you’re really owed beyond confusing — especially if there winds up being a problem that you’ll have to file an adjustment for, a little like the stimulus check “plus-up payments” going out now.

Start with CNET’s 2021 child tax credit calculator to see how much you should expect, and keep reading for other important details, including money for older kids and information about shared custody. For more money matters, see if your state owes you extra money now and see new rules to save on COBRA, FSA and insurance costs. Here’s what we know about a fourth stimulus check and the situation with student loan forgiveness. This story has been updated.

2021 child tax credit calculator: How much money will you get?

Child tax credit payments for 2021 allot up to $3,600 per child aged 5 and under, and $3,000 for kids between the ages of 6 and 17. You can get a $500 total payment for dependents who are 18 and for full-time college students between 19 and 24 years old. If your adjusted gross income, or 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.

Enter your details below to see the size of your child tax credit checks. 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.

The child tax credit and babies born in 2021

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 more information for parents of 2021 babies.

What if your child reaches the cutoff age by the end of 2021?

If you have a 5-year-old child 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 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 your income changes after child tax credit checks start going out? 

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 an IRS child tax portal portal the agency will make available 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 phaseout 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 2021 refund.

IRS commissioner Chuck Rettig said the portal will launch by July 1, and families can use it to make adjustments as needed.

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How do your taxes help determine your 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.

Other child tax credit qualifications to know

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.

For more information, here are more child tax credit payment details, who qualifies for the child tax credit and what we know about shared custody so far.

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