The Child Tax Credit has changed for 2021! Qualified families may receive regular advance payments during the year, totaling up to 50% of the credit. Families who typically don’t file taxes may still qualify for advance Child Tax Credit. There’s still time for eligible families who are not required to file taxes to register for the payments. The Non-Filer Sign-Up tool is only available until October 15, 2021.
The expanded and newly-advanceable Child Tax Credit was authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act, enacted in March. The American Rescue Plan increased the maximum Child Tax Credit in 2021 to $3,600 for children under the age of 6 and to $3,000 per child for children between ages 6 and 17. Eligible families will receive a payment of up to $300 per month for each child under age 6 and up to $250 per month for each child age 6 and above. The first payment was issued to families on July 15th. Each monthly payment thereafter falls on the 15th of the month unless the 15th falls on a weekend or a holiday.
Most eligible families have already begun receiving monthly payments. For everyone else, additional action is required. The steps below outline the actions you need to take to register and receive the payment. Each step has a free online tool available only on IRS.gov.
Step 1: See if you qualify using the Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant
Though this step is optional, it can be helpful if you are unsure whether you qualify for either the credit or the advance payments. By answering a series of questions on the Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant you can find out, in advance, whether you qualify for the credit and the payments. You may still be able to benefit from the credit even if you aren’t working now or didn’t work in 2020.
Others who may qualify include:
- Individuals who do not have any earned income or who are not required to file a tax return
- Individuals who are experiencing homelessness with a qualifying child
- Those with Individual Taxpayer ID numbers (ITINs), with a qualifying child
- Grandparents raising grandchildren
- Parents who didn’t claim their child on their 2020 tax return
People who receive government benefits may think it will affect their benefits or that they lose benefits if they receive the credit. Advanced Child Tax Credit payments are not considered income and will not affect your access to government benefits like SSI, SNAP, TANF or WIC.
Step 2: Register with the IRS using the Non-filer Sign-up Tool or file a more complete 2020 tax return
If you qualify for the Child Tax Credit or the advance payments but are not required to file a federal tax return for 2020, then you can register using the Non-filer Sign-up Tool. The Tool will also allow you to request the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit if you didn’t get the full amount of your Economic Impact Payments. But you should consider filing a more complete tax return for 2020 if you’re eligible for other tax benefits. If you need to register using this tool it is important that you do so right away. The tool will not be available after October 15, 2021.
Step 3: Monitor payments and update your info using the Child Tax Credit Update Portal
After the IRS processes your tax return or after you register through the Non-filer Sign-up Tool, you can use the Child Tax Credit Update Portal to monitor or manage your monthly payments. Using the portal, you can update your bank account and mailing address, view your payments, and more.
For the latest information on the Child Tax Credit payments, visit IRS.gov. The IRS has created a special Advance Child Tax Credit 2021 page designed to provide the most up-to-date information about the credit and the advance payments. For more information, visit IRS.gov/childtaxcredit2021. The web page now features an updated set of frequently asked questions and the new Publication 5549, IRS User Guide: Child Tax Credit Update Portal