November 28, 2021

Baby

Make Baby Yours

Use this child tax credit calculator to see how much your family gets starting July 15

Parents can get as much as $3,600 per kid with the expanded credit program, whether in monthly installments or as one big payout. 


Sarah Tew/CNET

The first advance payment for the enhanced child tax credit is going out to millions of families in less than a month. Qualifying families can now receive $3,000 per child 6 to 17 years old and $3,600 per child under 6 years old. Receiving the full amount of the credit depends on your yearly income along with details about your family members

Since the math for calculating the child tax credit is a bit complicated this year, we’ll walk you through the payment amounts and schedules below. If you’re concerned the IRS has incorrect information about you or your dependents, you’ll be able to use the child tax credit portals to update your information. 

The IRS is sending out letters to parents to let them know they qualify. Even nonfilers could be eligible to get some extra cash for their children this year. Aside from the child tax credit money, you should check to see if you’re eligible to claim up to $16,000 for child care expenses. If you’re curious, we’ve also rounded up what’s known about a potential fourth stimulus check. This story was recently updated. 


Now playing:
Watch this:

Child tax credit: Everything we know



3:56

Calculate your family’s child tax credit total here

Enter your adjusted gross income and number of dependents below to calculate your payment. (Our calculator will not store or use your data.) The results you get 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 2020 tax return.

1. Choose your filing status below.

The child tax credit math is somewhat involved this time around: For parents of eligible children up to age 5, the IRS will pay a total of $3,600, half as six monthly payments and half as a 2021 tax credit. For each child ages 6 through 17, that total changes to $3,000. The IRS will make a one-time payment of $500 for dependents age 18 or full-time college students up through age 24.

If your AGI is $75,000 or less as a single filer, $112,500 as a head of household or $150,000 filing jointly, you’ll get the full amount. If your income is higher than the limit for your filing status, your child tax credit payments will begin to phase out by $50 for every $1,000 of income over the threshold.

Monthly child tax credit program payment schedule

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

For an 18-year-old dependent, as well as for full-time college students ages 19 to 24, you will not receive monthly payments but rather one payment when you file your tax return in 2022.

Timeline for child tax credit payments

Monthly Maximum payment (newborn to 5) Maximum payment (6 to 17) Maximum payment (18 to 24)
Jul 15, 2021: First payment of the year $300 $250
Aug 13, 2021 $300 $250
Sep 15, 2021 $300 $250
Oct 15, 2021 $300 $250
Nov 15, 2021 $300 $250
Dec 15, 2021: Last payment of the year $300 $250
Apr 2022: Second half of payment $1,800 $1,500 $500

How to unenroll in monthly payment program and collect total credit instead

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 portal by July 1. The Child Tax Credit Update Portal will enable anyone who is eligible for advance payments to unenroll from the advance payment program. That means that instead of receiving $300 per month for your 3-year-old (and the remainder of your money in 2022, for example), you wait until you file your taxes in 2022 to claim the full $3,600.

Later on, that same portal will allow people to check on the status of their payments and make updates to their information. 

Details for people who aren’t typically required to file a tax return

The IRS will automatically make the payments for those who filed their 2020 tax return or claimed dependents on their 2019 tax return. If you didn’t submit your tax return, the IRS won’t know to send you a payment (and also won’t know if you’ve gained dependents since the last tax filing).

If you are a nonfiler and didn’t file a tax return this year and don’t plan to, the IRS has come up with an alternative. A new “Non-filer Sign-up tool” allows non-tax filer families to submit a simplified electronic form to let the IRS know how many kids they have and their ages — including babies born in 2020 and 2021 — so they can get the correct payment amount. 

003-cash-stimulus-child-tax-credit-3600-calculator-cnet-2021-2020-federal-government-money-baby-family-pacifier-sippy

Babies born this year can be eligible for the full $3,600.


Sarah Tew/CNET

How to register a new child born this year

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.) This is 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.

Understanding child tax credit requirements for dependents

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. 

As for your chlld aging out of a payment bracket, know that the amount of the credit depends on the age of a child on Dec. 31 this year. So, if you have a 5-year-old turning 6 before the end of 2021, 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 2021, 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 that dependent.

What to do if the IRS issues an overpayment

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: The agency will make the Child Tax Credit Update Portal available by July 1 so you can update your information. If you need to make an adjustment, the IRS 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 will have to return the excess money on your 2021 tax return next spring, or else accept a smaller 2021 refund or owe more in taxes.