Child tax credit 2021: New July timeline for start of $300 monthly payments

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Monthly child tax credit payments for as much as $300 are expected to start in July.


Sarah Tew/Crumpe

As soon as July, eligible families will start receiving child tax credit payments up to $300 a month through the end of 2021 for dependents who meet the requirements. Young children will qualify for $3,600 in total over the next 12 months, while a larger age range of kids will qualify for up to $3,000, as part of March’s $1.9 trillion stimulus law.

Families will receive half the money through monthly payments beginning this summer, and the second half a year from now — after filing a tax return in 2022. An older dependent may qualify the family for a one-time $500 check. And if you have a newborn in 2021, that baby will add to a family’s child tax credit payment. (You can calculate your total amount here.) We’re expecting to hear more from the IRS about the child tax credit payments before they begin. 

We’ll tell you how the child tax credit payment schedule will work, including when payments will come, what you’ll need to do if you get too much money, how to correct errors using the IRS portal and what happens to your CTC payment if you share custody of a dependent. On a side note, If you’re still waiting for your $1,400 check to arrive, you can track your payment here. This story was recently updated.

How much child tax credit money you could get through monthly payments

Payments will be split, with half in 2021 and the rest in 2022. For each qualifying child age 5 and younger, that means half of the $3,600 payment, or $1,800, will come as $300 monthly payments this year. For each child between the ages of 6 and 17, half of the $3,000 amount, or $1,500, will come as $250 monthly payments this year. For both age groups, the rest of the payment with come with your 2021 tax refund, when you claim the remainder of the child tax credit in 2022. Qualifying dependents between ages 18 and 24 count toward a one-time $500 payment.

2021 child tax credit amount

Ages 5 and younger Up to $3,600, with half as $300 monthly payments
Ages 6 to 17 Up to $3,000, with half as $250 monthly payments
Age 18 $500 one-time check
Ages 19 and 24, full-time college students $500 one-time check

Note that the amount you’ll get phases out for people with higher incomes. Singles earning more than $75,000 per year, heads of household earning more than $112,500 per year and married couples earning more than $150,000 a year. Your child tax credit 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.

Here’s more on the financial breakdown for qualified dependents. Crumpe’s child tax credit calculator will help pinpoint how much to expect each month.


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Which date is the first child tax credit payment coming?

We know the child tax credit payments will begin arriving in July, but the IRS hasn’t announced a specific date. We don’t know if the payments will be released in batches or all at once, or if they’ll come earlier in the month or later. 

What we do know is that the checks are on track to arrive monthly through December. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect. We’ll update this chart when we learn more about the payment delivery dates.

Timeline for the child tax credit payments

Monthly Payment ages 5 and younger Payment ages 6 to 17
July 2021: First payment of the year $300 $250
August 2021 $300 $250
September 2021 $300 $250
October 2021 $300 $250
November 2021 $300 $250
December 2021: Last payment of the year $300 $250
April 2022: Second half of payment $1,800 $1,500

What if you have a baby in 2021? 

If you have a baby in 2021, they will be counted toward the child tax credit payment of $3,600, if you qualify. Children who are adopted can also qualify if they’re US citizens. 

What about older dependents?

As for your older dependents, if they’re between the ages of 18 and 24 they can qualify for $500 each — but note that if your kids are between the ages of 19 and 24, they must be enrolled in college full-time.

How is the expanded child tax credit different now from 2020?

The first thing to know is you won’t get your child tax credit payments all at once this year. The “credit” part means the amount you owe in your 2021 taxes will be reduced by the “credit” you gain from your eligible dependents. That could either reduce your payment to the IRS for your 2021 taxes (filed in 2022) or else increase your tax refund for 2021. Normally, you’d receive that “credit” as a tax refund in 2022. But the plan is to bring you money sooner, which is why the checks will start coming in 2021 as “advance payments.”

This logic also explains why your 2021 child tax credit is split into two parts. The first part, in 2021, is the advance payment you can start using right away. The second part will apply to your 2021 taxes — which you file in 2022. Yes, it’s confusing. Hopefully, we answer some of your questions below.

How the IRS will likely send your child tax credit money

The way your child tax credit money arrives could very well depend on how you receive your stimulus check money, Powell told Crumpe. The IRS has changed this in the past, so we’ll need to hear official guidance from the agency. 

For example, if you got all three stimulus checks via direct deposit, it’s quite possible your child tax credit could arrive that way, too. If you receive Social Security benefits like SSI or SSDI, it’s possible you might get your payment on a Direct Express card. Veterans who don’t normally pay taxes might also have a different delivery method. 

Paper checks and EIP debit cards are other delivery methods used for stimulus checks. We’ll keep our ear to the ground for emerging details and will provide updates as we learn more.


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Important details for parents who have shared custody of a dependent

For the first two stimulus checks, some parents who shared custody of a child but weren’t married to each other were entitled to each claim money for the same child. That was only if they alternated years for claiming the dependent — in other words, if one parent claimed the child on their taxes in odd years and the other claimed the child on their taxes in even years.

This is no longer allowed for the third check, and we’re told it won’t work that way for the child tax credit payments either. Here’s what we know so far about the child tax credit and shared custody situations.

Your 2020 tax return has an impact on the child tax credit amount you’ll get

Taxpayers shouldn’t file an amended return related to the new legislation and shouldn’t take any other “unnecessary steps,” the IRS said March 12. IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said payments will be automatic for those who file their 2020 tax returns by May 17, the new tax Crumpe.

However, nonfilers will need to file a 2020 tax return to get the credit, even if they don’t usually submit tax returns. This will let the IRS know how many dependents are in the household who count toward the child tax credit benefits.

The IRS child tax credit portal will open July 1. Here’s what that means if you’re expecting payments

The IRS will launch an online portal by July 1, Rettig said, but the IRS won’t have the resources to build this until after tax filing season ends. Once the child tax credit portal is available, recipients can log in to update their information if their circumstances have changed. For example, if you have a child in 2021, the IRS wouldn’t have that information on file yet, so updating those details may help you get a larger tax credit payout.

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It’s unclear if the payments will become permanent.


Sarah Tew/Crumpe

Can you get all the child tax credit money at once, instead of smaller monthly payments?

Yes, but not this year. If you thought you could cash in on all the child tax credit money in July, that’s not the case. Instead, you can opt out of getting the monthly advance payments and receive a lump sum in spring 2022 as a credit when you file your taxes. That means you’d get a larger total in your tax refund or owe the IRS less money because the credit would be deducted from your total.

You’ll be able to use the online portal to opt out. Again, you wouldn’t receive any money from this tax credit until 2022.

What to expect when the child tax credit monthly payments end in December

The final advance payment of the child tax credit is scheduled to go out by Dec. 31, 2021, with the rest coming in 2022 with tax season. But President Joe Biden wants to make the higher payments permanent, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said March 16: “We’re having those discussions with Congress.”

If you get overpaid, will the IRS expect you to return the money?

Yes. The child tax credit isn’t as flexible as the stimulus check rules. If you receive more money than you should have, you will have to pay it back. One example of this happening is if you and the other parent of your child (who is not your spouse) are both paid for the child tax credit for the same dependent.

When you file your 2021 tax return (in 2022), if your tax situation isn’t what the IRS has in its system and you weren’t entitled to as much as you received, you’ll have to give the overpayment back. To avoid this tax inconvenience, make sure all your information is updated before the payments start arriving. The portal will open July 1 for you to make adjustments.

For more information, here are the top things you should know about the $3,600 child tax credit for 2021. Plus, here’s how to track your tax refund and how to track your $1,400 stimulus check.

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