When will you get the $3,600 Child Tax Credit? When payments could arrive and how often – CNET


Details on the child tax credit payments still aren’t set, but they’re expected to start in July. Here’s what we know right now.

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Over the past couple of weeks, the IRS has sent out more than 120 million stimulus checks via direct depositspaper checks and EIP cards (track your payment here). The third payments are just one way the government is sending direct relief to qualified families (calculate your payment total); the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill also provides households with more money by including the 2021 child tax credit (CTC).

The new CTC could more than double the amount of the larger stimulus checks going out, which max out at $1,400 (including for dependents). The CTC expansion allows eligible parents to claim up to $3,600 for each child dependent (here’s who qualifies for the new CTC tax break). That’s a raise of up to $1,600 over the $2,000 parents could claim last year for each dependent aged 17 or younger on their tax returns

Now the biggest questions arise: When could you start receiving your child tax credit checks, and how often would you get them? We’ll explain that and more below. Here are seven tax credits for 2021, more information about unemployment benefits, and what we know so far about whether a fourth stimulus check could happen. This story was recently updated.

When will your child tax credit payments begin arriving?

While the American Rescue Plan stipulates that the CTC payments will begin arriving in July, a specific date has yet to be released. The IRS will make additional information about the expanded child tax credit available “as soon as possible,” the agency said in a statement March 12

Are there extra steps to take to get the child tax credit payments?

The IRS urged taxpayers not to file an amended return related to the new legislation and not to take any other “unnecessary steps,” it said March 12. 

IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said that payments will be automatic for those who file their 2020 tax returns by May 17, the new tax deadline.

However, nonfilers will need to file a tax return to get the credit, even if they don’t usually submit tax returns. 

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How often will I get the CTC payments? 

The idea is for the child tax credit to be paid out “periodically,” according to the text of the stimulus bill, from July through December. However, the IRS is still working to determine how often it will be able to get the checks out — and if that could even hit a monthly distribution. 

When asked if the agency would be able to start making payments in July, Rettig said that “that time frame might change in some manner” but that the agency is committed to hitting the goal. “I think it might be a challenge to get into the monthly right out of the box,” he said.

The amount you’d receive would be half of what you’re owed for the year, under the new stimulus bill, and you’ll receive the other half of the payment with your 2021 tax refund.

If paid out monthly, the payments would break down to up to $300 per month for each qualifying child age 5 and under, and up to $250 per month for each child between the ages of 6 and 17. Note that this amount phases out for those with higher incomes — for single people earning more than $75,000 per year, heads of household earning more than $112,500 per year and married couples earning more than $150,000 a year.

2021 child tax credit amount

Age Amount you could get per child
Age 5 and under Up to $3,600, or $300 a month if monthly payouts occur
Ages 6-17 Up to $3,000, or $250 a month if monthly payouts occur

Will the IRS direct deposit the child tax credit money, or send it by mail?

When the payments do start arriving, the Treasury and IRS could very well send out the payments the same way they do the stimulus checks, Joanna Powell, managing director and CFP at CBIZ, told CNET. 

It hasn’t been confirmed by the IRS yet, but if the agency does use the same method as stimulus checks, here’s how it would work: If you have direct deposit on file with the IRS, that’s how you’ll get your payment. If not, you’ll receive your money as a paper check.

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When will the online IRS portal for fixing errors be available?

The IRS said it will create an online portal for the advanced credit, Powell said. The goal is to have the portal launched by July 1, Rettig said during the subcommittee meeting, but the IRS won’t have the resources to build this until after tax filing season ends.

Once the CTC portal is available, recipients can log in to update their information if their circumstances have changed. For example, if you have a child in 2021, the IRS wouldn’t have that information on file yet, so updating those details could help you get a higher payment.

Will you have to return money to the IRS if you get more money than you should?

The CTC isn’t as flexible as the stimulus check rules. If you receive more money than you should have, you will have to pay it back. Powell explained that when you file your 2021 tax return (in 2022), if your tax situation isn’t what the IRS has in its system, and you weren’t entitled to as much as you received, you’ll have to give the overpayment back. 

To avoid this tax inconvenience, make sure all of your information is updated before the payments start arriving. Powell estimates the portal will be open ahead of time so you can make any necessary adjustments.


It’s unclear if the payments will become permanent.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Could you get all your CTC money as a lump sum instead of periodic payments?

Absolutely, but not this year. If you thought you could cash in on all the CTC money in July, that’s not the case. Instead, you can opt out of getting the periodic advance payments and receive a lump sum in spring 2022 as a credit when you file your taxes. You’ll be able to use the online portal to opt out. Again, you wouldn’t receive any money until 2022.

For more information, here are five things you should know about the $3,600 child tax credit for 2021. Plus, here’s how to track your tax refund and your $1,400 stimulus check

What happens when the CTC payments end in December?

The final payment of the child tax credit is scheduled to end by Dec. 31, 2021. President Joe Biden, however, wants to make the higher payments permanent, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday: “We’re having those discussions with Congress.”