If there’s one thing families have learned from the pandemic, it’s how to wait for a payment to arrive from the IRS. Get ready to start refreshing your bank account dashboard again. The IRS has just sent about $15 billion in payments to eligible families, and there are five more to come.
But not everyone qualifies for the payment. How much can you expect? How will you know if you qualify?
I’ll help you navigate all the details.
Who gets a payment?
First things first. As with last year’s stimulus payments, there are some qualifications.
You’ll need to meet the following criteria to see money in your account (or your mailbox):
- Have at least one child dependent who does not turn 18 before before January 1, 2022.
- That child will need to live with you at least half of the current tax year.
- The child will need to be your son, daughter, stepchild, eligible foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, half-brother, half-sister, or a descendant of any of those individuals.
- You’ll have to legally claim the child as your dependent on your taxes.
- The dependent can’t provide more than half of his or her own support.
There are some exceptions and finer details that you can find in Publication 972, Child Tax Credit and Credit for Other Dependents.
There are also some income limits. As long as your 2020 adjusted gross income was $75,000 or less, or $150,000 or less if you filed jointly, you’ll get the full amount. For head of household filers, the income limit for the full amount is $112,500. Above those amounts, your child tax credit will start to phase out.
But the good news is, everyone gets at least $2,000, as long as you meet the other qualifications. More on that below.
How much can I expect?
If you’ve already checked your account and the payment still isn’t there, you probably want to know how much is coming. The average per-child payout for the first round is $423, according to the Treasury Department, but the exact amount varies by household.
So how much will you get? First, it’s important to understand that this is the first of six payments. You’ll get one a month from July to December, and this is an advance on your 2021 tax credits. The rest will be paid when you file your taxes next year.
The total amount depends on the age of your child and your own household income. For each qualifying child aged 5 and under, you get $3,600. The amount decreases slightly for children between the ages of 6 and 17, to $3,000 per child. The age limit is based on how old your child will be at the end of the 2021 tax year.
Now, about the income limit mentioned above.
If your AGI was more than $75,000 (150,000 for joint filers), you’ll still be eligible for the child tax credit. You’ll just get a reduced amount. Your credit will be reduced $50 per child for every $1,000 your income goes above the limit. You’ll at least get $2,000, even if the calculation would otherwise push you below that number.
When you’ll see your money
Typically, you’d get your child tax credits when you file your taxes. But the government is helping out families now. The first monthly payment was issued July 15, and each payment is scheduled to arrive in your account at that same time every month through the end of the year:
- July 15.
- August 13.
- September 15.
- October 15.
- November 15.
- December 15.
As to when it will appear in your bank account, that depends. It can appear as early as the above dates, but it can take some time to move through the system. You’ve probably noticed with the stimulus payments that some people receive their payments earlier than others.
How to get your money
As with the other stimulus payments, there’s nothing you need to do. The payments were issued automatically on July 15, so the money should arrive soon, if it hasn’t already.
The IRS uses your most recent tax return to determine whether you qualify, how much you qualify for, and where and how to send the money. If your most recent tax return directed your refund to be issued via direct deposit, your funds will appear in your checking account without warning. If your money was sent to your mailbox, that’s where it will come this time.
What if my information has changed?
Since the child tax credits are based on 2020 tax returns, some taxpayers have expressed concerns. Maybe your income has changed, or you’ve moved since filing your 2020 return. Some parents don’t file at all, so they need a way to get the credit.
The IRS has set up a Child Tax Credit Update Portal to help taxpayers manage their upcoming payments. You can use this tool to update your information and manage your payments. The updates won’t take effect with the current month’s payment, but at least you’ll be good for future payments.
What if I don’t want the advance?
It’s important to note that the tax credit is an advance. If you miss some or all of the payments between now and the end of the year, you’ll still be able to get the full amount when you file your 2021 taxes.
But you may not want the monthly payments. Maybe you like that big refund at tax time. If that’s the case, the above-mentioned Child Tax Credit Update Portal will let you manage your payments. You can request that advance payments stop. It may be too late to halt those that have already been issued, but any future payments won’t come your way.
These advance payments are designed to help relieve the burden that the pandemic has put on families. You’ll get a small amount per child each month, with the rest coming when you file your taxes in 2022.
But if your income has increased this year, you might want to use the portal to stop the payments so that you’ll have a bigger refund in 2022. If so, it’s important to take action as soon as possible to get your request in before the next payment is issued.