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Child Tax Credit 2021: How does it work?

In March 2021, Congress passed an increased Child Tax Credit (CTC) which gives families with children a larger tax credit. Families with children can receive the CTC as a monthly payment from July – December 2021 instead of waiting until they file their 2021 tax return next year.

What is the Child Tax Credit (CTC)?

The CTC is a refundable tax credit from the American Rescue Plan (or second COVID Stimulus Package) that is available to families with children who are age 17 or younger.

Tax credits lower the amount of money you owe in taxes. If a refundable tax credit is larger than the taxes you owe, the government will give you the remaining money. For example, if you owe $1000 in taxes and get a $1,400 refundable credit, you would get $400 back from the government.

As a parent, you can get the credit only if the child or children live with you for more than half the year. Payments will be:

    • $300 per month for each child in your household under the age of 6, and
    • $250 per month for each child in your household ages 6-17*

*This is your child’s age as of December 31st, 2021.

You will get the CTC tax credit for all 12 months of 2021, but the monthly payments will only be from July – December. This means that the first 6 months of 2021 (January – June) will count as a refundable tax credit when you file your 2021 tax return next year.


*Right now the increased CTC and monthly payments are ONLY for tax year 2021

We will update our blog post and video if Congress votes to extend the changes into future years.

Who is eligible for the CTC?

Children must have Social Security Numbers (SSN) for families to be eligible for the CTC. Parents do NOT need an SSN, but they must have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to claim the CTC for their eligible children.

Families are eligible to receive the full monthly payment if:

  • The parents are a married couple making $150,000 or less per year, or
  • A single parent files as “head of household” and makes $115,000 or less per year  

Families who make more than this may still receive some tax credit. There is no minimum income required to get the CTC for tax year 2021.

Do families need to file taxes to get the CTC?

No, you do not need to file taxes to get the CTC, but if you have not filed taxes, extra work may be required.  The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will use your tax return information to decide if you are eligible for CTC payments.

If you are eligible for CTC, the IRS will send you CTC monthly payments starting on July 15, 2021.

The IRS will use information from your 2019 tax return to decide if you are eligible.

If you are eligible to receive the CTC, you can sign up online using the Child Tax Credit Non-filer Sign-up Tool. To use the Non-filer Sign-up Tool you will need the following information:

    • Full names and SSN (or ITINs for qualifying parents) for all adults and children 
    • Email address to create an account
    • Address
    • Banking information if you would like direct deposit

You will get larger payments of the CTC each month until December (equal to 6 months of payments).

Will DACA Recipients get the CTC?

If you are a DACA recipient, you may claim the CTC for your children if they have a valid SSN. If you have an ITIN or a valid SSN, you can claim the CTC for your DACA recipient dependent children because all DACA recipients have a valid SSN.

Will the CTC affect my immigration status?

Receiving the CTC or any other tax credits will NOT affect your immigration status or your ability to get a green card. The USCIS does not look at tax credits you receive when deciding if you are a “public charge”.  For information on “public charge” rules, please click here

When will eligible families get the CTC?

Starting July 15, 2021 parents will get the monthly CTC payment on the 15th of every month between July and December 2021 if they have filed a tax return and are eligible. 

When families file their 2021 tax return next year, they will get the CTC as a refundable tax credit for the first 6 months of 2021 (January – June).

How will eligible families get the CTC?

Families can receive the CTC payments either by direct bank deposit or as a check by mail.

*If you would like to check if you are already enrolled for CTC payments, to unenroll for tax reasons, or to verify or change bank account information, please go to the IRS Child Tax Credit Update Portal and choose “Manage Advance Payments”. If you have questions about what is best for you or your family, contact a competent tax professional.

Last updated: 08-05-2021

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