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Child tax credit: Here’s how to opt out of monthly payments before the next deadline

Child tax credit: Here's how to opt out of monthly payments before the next deadline

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Eligible families can choose to opt out of advanced monthly payments to get one lump sum next year. 


Sarah Tew/CNET

If you missed the deadline to opt out of advanced child tax credit payments there’s still time before the next check. The deadline to opt out is 29 days away — Aug. 2. You’ll use one of the new IRS portals that launched this month to unenroll from these payments. Note that you cannot undo this action for the year. After you opt out of the advance payment program, you’ll claim the full amount when you file your tax return in 2022 if you’re eligible. 

For many families, advanced payments are a big financial relief from pandemic hardships. But there may be several reasons why unenrolling is a good idea for others. For instance, if you know that your family circumstances — like income or number of dependents — are changing this year, maybe you don’t want the hassle of updating your details online. Or if you know those changes may mean you’ll have to pay the IRS back because you’re ineligible. 

If you’re thinking about opting out, use the Child Tax Credit Update Portal. You’ll be able to see if you’re eligible and unenroll. It can take up to seven calendar days for your opt-out request to be processed, and if you miss the deadline there’s a good chance you’ll still receive a monthly payment. We’ll explain reasons for wanting to unenroll, as well as the extra steps married couples filing jointly will have to take. Here’s also how you can claim up to $16,000 in child care expenses as a tax break next year and some ideas for the best ways to spend your child tax credit money when it comes in two weeks. This story gets frequent updates.

How to opt out of child tax credit payments 

1. Head to the new Child Tax Credit Update Portal and click the Unenroll from Advance Payments button.

2. On the next page, sign in using your IRS or ID.me account. If you have neither, the page will walk you through setting up an ID.me account.

3. On the next page, you can see your eligibility and unenroll from the monthly payments. 

3 key reasons for unenrolling from advanced child tax credit checks

Here are three major reasons why unenrolling from the monthly child tax credit payment program may be a good idea: 

  • You’d rather have one large payment next year instead of seven smaller payments spanning 2021 and 2022. This could be the case for families saving up for a big expense or those who have budgeted for that money to pay off outstanding debt. 
  • You know your household circumstances or tax situation will change and don’t want to deal with having to update your information in the portal.
  • You’re concerned the IRS might send you an overpayment based on changes to your situation this year, and you don’t want to worry about paying that money back next year.

What’s the deadline for opting out? Can I re-enroll?

You can opt out anytime in 2021 to not receive your remaining monthly payments. To unenroll, the IRS said you must opt out three days before the first Thursday of the month to not receive the next month’s payment. See the chart below for more. If you miss that deadline, the IRS said you will get the next scheduled advance payment until the agency can process your request to unenroll.

The IRS said currently if you unenroll, you can’t re-enroll. Starting in late September, you will be able to opt back in.

Child tax credit payment unenrollment dates

Payment month Unenrollment deadline Payment date
July June 28 July 15
August Aug. 2 Aug. 13
September Aug. 30 Sept. 15
October Oct. 4 Oct. 15
November Nov. 1 Nov. 15
December Nov. 29 Dec. 15

Opting out steps for married couples

If you’re married and file jointly, both you and your spouse need to opt out. If only one of you does so, you will get half the joint payment you were supposed to receive with your spouse, the IRS said.

How nonfiling parents can enroll for child tax credit payments

If you filed your taxes before the May 17 deadline, then you’ll automatically receive the advance monthly payments starting July 15. An online IRS portal for nonfilers is also available for families who don’t normally file an income tax return so they can register with the agency and receive their payments. However, the tool has been criticized for not being easy to use — especially on a phone. The portal will have frequent updates in the future. 


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If my family defers this year’s checks, when will we receive the child tax credit?

Those who choose to decline this year’s child tax credit installments (amounting to half the total) will still receive the same amount of money in the end, but are simply delaying when they receive it. 

Be aware that if you unenroll from getting the monthly child tax credits from July through December, you won’t get your full payment — or any payment at all — until after the IRS processes your 2021 tax return in 2022. The total amount will then arrive with your tax refund or can be used to offset any taxes you owe at that time; you’ll be in a similar situation to those people who had to claim missing stimulus checks this year.

So if you have a child who’s 5 years old or younger by the end of 2021 and your income meets the requirements, you’ll get $3,600 total when you file your taxes in 2022. However, if you choose to receive monthly payments, you’d get six installments of $300 payments each month this year and another $1,800 with your tax refund next year instead. You can use our child tax credit 2021 calculator to estimate how much you should get and see a breakdown of the monthly payments if you choose not to opt out and meet all eligibility requirements. 

Child tax credit payment schedule

Monthly  Maximum payment per child 5 and younger  Maximum payment for each child; 6 to 17
July 15 $300 $250
Aug. 13 $300 $250
Sept. 15 $300 $250
Oct. 15 $300 $250
Nov. 15 $300 $250
Dec. 15 $300 $250
April 2022: Second half of payment  $1,800 $1,500 

Other reasons to use the Child Tax Credit Update Portal

The portal also lets you add any changes that have happened since you last filed your taxes. For example, if you had a new baby in 2021 or gained a new qualified dependent or if your income changed recently, the IRS wouldn’t have that on file yet. You can also update your banking information and see processed payments 

Before the end of the year, the IRS will give the portal more functionality to allow you to update your mailing address and bank information, add or subtract qualifying children or report a change in your marital status or income. 

For more child tax credit information, here’s what to know about the child tax credit payment timeline and how to estimate your total payment using CNET’s child tax credit calculator

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