Expanded Child Tax Credit with Advance Payments for 2021

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 made three key changes to the Child Tax Credit (CTC) for tax year 2021. First, it increased the age limit for qualifying children to 17. Second, it raised the maximum credit from $2,000 per child up to $3,600 per child under 6, and $3,000 per child of age 6 through 17. Finally, it authorized the U.S. Treasury to make monthly advance payments of the 2021 credit beginning this July.

The increased CTC amounts are reduced (phased out), for incomes over $150,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return and qualifying widows or widowers, $112,500 for heads of household, and $75,000 for all other taxpayers.

CTC advance payments will be sent to millions of taxpayers by check or direct deposit on the 15th of July, September, October, November and December, as well as on August 13th. The maximum payment amount will be $300 per child under 6, and $250 per child of age 6–17.

The IRS recently mailed letters to over 36 million U.S. households to notify them of their potential eligibility for these monthly payments. In most cases, the IRS determined possible eligibility based on the taxpayers’ 2020 tax returns, or information they provided via the Non-Filers Tool for 2020 stimulus payments. In cases where a person has not yet filed a 2020 return or their return has not been processed, the IRS used their 2019 return instead.

Most eligible taxpayers do not need to take any action to begin receiving advance CTC payments. However, those who have not filed a 2019 or 2020 federal tax return should file as soon as possible to ensure that they get payments if they qualify. You can submit a 2020 return to qualify for CTC payments even if you owe no tax and usually do not have to file IRS returns.

In the coming weeks and months, the IRS will also add a number of online tools to help ensure that all eligible taxpayers receive their advance CTC payments. These will include an Update Portal to provide the IRS with information on changes to your income or family size, an opt-out tool and a tool to determine your eligibility for the credit.

The IRS already has an online Non-filer Sign-up tool designed to help eligible families who don’t normally file tax returns register for the monthly Advance Child Tax Credit payments, scheduled to begin July 15.

The Non-filer Sign-up tool is for people who did not file a tax return for 2019 or 2020 and who did not use the IRS Non-filer tool last year to register for Economic Impact Payments. The tool enables them to provide required information about themselves, their qualifying children age 17 and under, their other dependents, and their direct deposit bank information so the IRS can quickly and easily deposit the payments directly into their checking or savings account. FYI: The IRS delivers this tool through its participation in the Free File Alliance.

Please be aware that you may receive a much lower tax refund or even owe money when filing your 2021 tax return because the credit received on your 2021 tax return will be lower due to the advance credit received during the year.   This is a complex tax issue that depends on your filing status, income, age of your dependent children, withholdings and other credits affecting the tax return. 

We are happy to provide you with some tax planning if needed. Our minimum fee is $125 for a simple tax plan.