Find out if you qualify for advance payments
The easiest way to find out if you qualify for advance CTC is to use the IRS Advance Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant. (Spanish version) It will ask you questions about yourself and other family members to see if you qualify for the credit, and if so, it will estimate the amount.
Advance payment eligibility
The IRS will automatically issue advance payments, based on the estimated CTC due to you, in 2021. You can find out if you are already automatically enrolled, by using the Child Tax Credit Update Portal.
The estimated CTC total is based on information included in eligible taxpayers’ 2020 tax returns (or their 2019 returns if the 2020 returns are not filed and processed yet). Then the advance payment amounts are 50% of that estimated total, split into monthly payments. These payments will be made regularly from July 15 through December 15, 2021 to eligible taxpayers who have a main home in the United States for more than half the year. So, the total of the advance payments will be up to 50 percent (half) of the estimated CTC that you would be due when filing your 2021 tax return in 2022.
You cannot request that advance payment be issued any other way than to file a 2020 tax return. See below for more information.
Is your information on file with IRS?
- If you already filed a prior year tax return claiming the CTC, for 2019 or 2020, you do not need to take any action, unless:
- You do not want to receive advance payment,
- You want to receive the credit in full when you file your 2021 tax return in 2022, or
- Your information has changed since filing.
- If you have not filed a 2019 or 2020 tax return claiming the CTC (including information you entered into the IRS’s Non-Filer tool for Economic Impact Payments on IRS.gov in 2020), you will need to file a tax return.
- The IRS has created a special tool, called the Child Tax Credit Non-filer Sign-up Tool (Spanish version) that allows certain taxpayers to register to be eligible for advance CTC payments. Carefully read the ‘Who Should Use This Tool” and the ‘What You Need’ information on that page before using the tool.
How will I receive advance payments?
If the IRS has received your banking information, your payment will be sent to you as a direct deposit. The IRS will use bank account information from the following sources, in the following order:
- Your 2020 tax return.
- Your 2019 tax return, including information you entered into the Non-Filer tool on IRS.gov in 2020.
- A federal agency that provides you benefits, such as: Social Security Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, or the Railroad Retirement Board.
If the IRS does not have bank account information to issue you a direct deposit, the IRS will send your advance CTC payments by mail.
What if I choose not to receive advance payments?
You might choose not to receive advance payment for several reasons, including that:
- You expect the amount of tax you owe to be greater than your expected refund when you file your 2021 tax return in 2022.
- You know you will no longer qualify for the credit for the 2021 tax year, due to the child’s age or because your total earned income amount is now over the income limitations.
- You have an existing written agreement with the child’s other parent to not claim this credit in 2021 and/or the child lived with the other parent for more than half of the year.
- You prefer to receive the total credit when you file your 2021 return in 2022.
For other examples, see the Questions and Answers About the Advance Child Tax Credit Payments on IRS.gov.
How do I un-enroll (opt-out)?
If you choose not to receive these advance payments, you must unenroll (opt-out) by:
If eligible, you should receive IRS letter 6417 describing the steps needed to unenroll, follow those instructions. If you did not receive a letter, go to the IRS’s Advance Child Tax Credit Payments in 2021 page and follow the instructions located there.
Note: After you unenroll, via the tool above, advance payments will cease. Check back after unenrolling to make sure your request was processed successfully.
Caution: You cannot re-enroll at this time. Currently, unenrollment is a one-time action. You will be able to re-enroll starting in late September 2021. Check the IRS FAQs for any changes or updates.
What is the due date for un-enrolling?
To stop advance payments, you must unenroll 3 days before the first Thursday of next month by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.
What if my information has changed since filing or changes after July 1?
You should notify the IRS of certain changes, listed further below, by:
Changes* that can and should be reported include the following:
- Updating your mailing address;
- Updating your bank account information;
- Adding or subtracting the number of your qualifying children, including by reason of the birth or adoption of a child, or if the child changes the primary location of where they live more than 50 percent of the year;
- Reporting a change in your marital status; and
- Reporting a change in your income.
For more details, see the IRS’s Advance Child Tax Credit Payments in 2021 page and the FAQs for Topic F: Updating Your Child Tax Credit Information During 2021.
*Important note: The IRS’s Child Tax Credit Update Portal (CTC Up) will allow the above changes but in a phased-in timeline. In June 2021, it will only allow changes related to unenrollment (opt-out). In July 2021, it will allow updates to banking information, but those changes will only affect the August payment (and subsequent payments), not the first payment issued July 15. Future tool enhancements, expected to be available later in the year, will allow all remaining changes mentioned above, to be completed at that time. For more details about using this tool, read the information located on the tool page or see the 2021 Child Tax Credit and Advance Child Tax Credit Payments Frequently Asked Questions page.
Caution: Changes 3 thru 5 listed above should be reported as soon as allowable, as they directly affect not only the amount of the monthly advance payment issued, but also the total amount of CTC allowed on the 2021 tax return. So, depending on what those changes are, increases or decreases, understand you may potentially end up owing a balance due or receive a reduced refund once all the information is reconciled on the tax return. See the How will this affect me? section below or the IRS’s Advance Child Tax Credit Payments in 2021 page and associated FAQs for even more details and examples.
Claiming the Credit
Eligible taxpayers will generally claim the credit in tax year 2021, on the Form 1040 series income tax return. Puerto Rico residents will claim the credit using Form 1040-PR, Form 1040-SS, or other 1040 series form. Taxpayers living in other U.S Territories must follow the instructions from their territory tax agency.
All taxpayers who received advance payment of this credit, must file a tax return, to claim the CTC and reconcile the amount they received in advance versus the total amount for which they qualify. This will be required whether you have a regular requirement to file a tax return or not.
For more details on claiming the credit and reconciling advance payments for the 2021 tax year, see IRS’s Advance Child Tax Credit Payments in 2021 page, the FAQs located there, and the 2021 Form 1040 series income tax return instructions when they are published.