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This IRS tool shows if you qualify for child tax credit payments. Here’s how to use it

Where's your income tax refund? Track refund status with IRS tools


Are you getting a child tax credit payment July 15?

Sarah Tew/CNET

In just over a week, eligible households will get the first child tax credit payment — that means it’s time to see if you’ll get a payment or not. The IRS recently launched a tool called the Advance Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant that tells you if you’re eligible for the payments after you answer a few basic questions. 

Once you’ve done that, you can use CNET’s child tax credit calculator to see how much money you can expect to get with the enhanced credit over the course of the year — that could be up to $3,600 per kid. Smaller monthly checks come automatically to eligible households except for those who already unenrolled in the monthly payment plan. There is still time to opt out of the next August payment using the Child Tax Credit Update Portal if your family would prefer a payout for the full amount of the credit next year instead. 

The IRS’ Eligibility Assistant tool is fairly straightforward, and we can help you navigate it below. If you don’t have an account with the IRS yet, you can set one up using — it’s widely used by the IRS, US Treasury and Social Security Administration. Also, here’s what you need to know about how the child tax credit will affect your taxes in 2022.

Things you need on hand before using the eligibility tool

Before you begin, make sure you’ve got a copy of your 2020 tax return, or your 2019 tax return if you haven’t yet filed your taxes this year (for example, if you filed an extension). If you don’t have your tax return on hand, you can use your filing status and the number of children you claimed, along with an estimate of your total income for 2020. 

How to use the tool to check your eligibility

Once you’ve figured out what your income was for either 2020 or 2019, you can check your eligibility. Here’s how.

1. Go to the Advance Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant tool page on the IRS website.

2. Tap or click Check Your Eligibility.

3. You’ll then need to answer a few questions about yourself and your taxes. For instance, the form will ask if you claimed the child tax credit on a previous tax return.

4. You may need to provide additional information, depending on how you answered the questions. Here’s where you fill in your filing status, your adjusted gross income and the number of children you claimed on your tax return, along with their ages.

5. After you hit Next, the tool will let you know whether you qualify based on the answers you provided. It’ll tell you the amount each kid under 6 qualifies you for, and how much each kid 6 and older qualifies you for. It’ll also show you the income phaseout details.

6. From here, tap or click Manage your advance child tax credit payments, which will take you to the child tax credit portal that lets you unenroll from the monthly payments if you prefer to get one large check instead of several smaller ones, or submit your information if you’re a nonfiler.

$300 cash with calculator

The tool leaves it up to you to calculate the total amount you’ll get for the child tax credit.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Details the eligibility tool won’t tell you

  • The personalized total you’ll get from the child tax credit payment. It leaves it up to you to do the math.
  • How much the payments will be reduced if your income exceeds the limit.
  • All of the payment dates for the child tax credit.
  • Only one parent can claim the money for any given child in a shared custody situation.

You can find an answer to some of those questions in our child tax credit FAQ

What to do if you have a baby after payments begin this year

If you have a baby after the July 15 payment goes out, you’ll need to update your information in the IRS Update Portal when that feature is made available in late summer. Once the agency has your updated details on file, you’ll be eligible to receive the future payments. For instance, if your baby is born Aug. 20, you could start getting the advance payments in September. You’ll have to wait until 2022 to get the July and August payments retroactively. 

If your baby is born in December, you can claim the money you didn’t get from July through December when you file your taxes next year. If you have a newborn in January 2022, you won’t be eligible for the larger sum of money that was approved in the American Rescue Plan, but you could be eligible for the original amount — unless the enhanced child tax credit is extended.

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