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Child tax credit money: How much will your family get each month?

Child tax credit 2021: Cash benefit calculator shows how much you'll get July 15

piggy bank and cash with calculator

Get ready to receive the first tax credit payments this summer. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Mark your calendar for July 15 if you’re expecting to get the first payment for the child tax credit. However, decoding how much you’ll get can be complicated since it depends on your income, plus how many of your children qualify based on their age. Fortunately, CNET’s child tax credit calculator can take the guesswork out and show you how much you can expect to get each month and in total.

Need to change any personal details? No worries: The IRS is rolling out two portals by July 1 for people who need to make updates to any income changes, number of dependents and can use a portal to opt out of monthly payments to get one larger payment.

Congress has not decided whether to extend enhanced child tax credit payments into 2025, although President Joe Biden has proposed the extension. As a parent, you should know about getting $16,000 back for child care expenses. Here’s what we know about a possible fourth stimulus check and what is happening with unemployment benefits. We continue to update this story frequently.

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How do you calculate your child tax credit payment total?

The expanded child tax credits Congress approved in March boosts the 2020 credit from a max of $2,000 per child to $3,600 — but the math gets complicated fast. Children age 5 and under who meet the requirements count for $3,600. Kids between 6 and 17 years old who are eligible count for $3,000 maximum per child; 18-year-olds and full-time college students 24 and under can qualify for a one-time $500 payment. 

To calculate your payment, enter your details below, including your adjusted gross income, or AGI. 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 less than or equal to $75,000 as a single filer, $112,500 as a head of household or $150,000 filing jointly, you’ll receive the full amount. For incomes higher than $150,000, your child tax credit payments will begin to phase out by $50 for every $1,000 of income over the threshold.

What does the IRS payment schedule look like for this year and next?

Here’s how the child tax credit payments will arrive, starting July 15 through 2022. The chart shows the maximum payment size, but you may qualify for less.

No, that Aug. 16 date is not a mistake. The 15th falls on a Sunday that month.

For an 18-year-old, as well as for full-time college students aged 19 to 24, you will receive one payment when you file your tax return in 2022.

Timeline for the child tax credit payments

Monthly Payment ages 5 and younger Payment ages 6 to 17 Payment ages 18 to 24
July 15, 2021: First payment of the year $300 $250
Aug. 16, 2021 $300 $250
Sept. 15, 2021 $300 $250
Oct. 15, 2021 $300 $250
Nov. 15, 2021 $300 $250
Dec. 15, 2021: Last payment of the year $300 $250
April 2022: Second half of payment $1,800 $1,500 $500

How do you opt out of the monthly advance child tax credit payments?

If you’d rather get your 2021 child tax credit money as one large payment, you’ll be able to opt out of monthly payments once the IRS opens its online portals to help you make that decision and input other information, like if your AGI or other changed circumstances. It’ll be the second, separate portal that will allow families to tell the IRS they want to receive the benefit in full at tax time at the end of the year rather than on a monthly basis.

The IRS is expected to open its child tax credit website by July 1. 

Opting out would mean that instead of receiving $300 per month for your 3-year-old (and the remainder of your money in 2022 for example), you can wait until you file your taxes next year to claim the full $3,600.


Parents with new babies in 2021 will be able to claim up to $3,600 total.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Do new parents qualify for the bigger payment amount?

Children born in 2021 make you eligible for the 2021 tax credit of $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.

What determines the eligibility for all of your kids?

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. You should also see if you’re eligible for a child care tax credit if you paid for a day care, after-school program or babysitter. 

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What if a kid ages out of a bracket by the end of 2021?

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. 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.

How do 2020 tax returns decide the amount of your child tax credit payment?

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 deadline, the IRS Commissioner Charles 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.

How to take care of IRS overpayment if it happens to you

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 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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