Watch CBS News

Child Tax Credit Latest: How To Use The IRS's Update Portal

(CBS Philadelphia) -- Advance payments of the new Child Tax Credit start July 15, 2021. While the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will begin sending out checks on Thursday, the actual money may not arrive until early next week or even later. Exactly when depends on individual banks and the vagaries of the U.S. mail system. (Stimulus checks had the same sort of timing issues.) How much will be a function of household income and dependent age. But parents still have some amount of control over their money and how it arrives, thanks to the IRS's Child Tax Credit Update Portal.

How Does The Updated Credit Work?

The IRS will pay $3,600 per child to parents of young children up to age five. Half of the money will come as six monthly payments, and half as a 2021 tax credit. That total changes to $3,000 for each child ages six through 17. The IRS will make a one-time payment of $500 for dependents age 18 or fulltime college students up through age 24.

Advance Child Tax Credit payments are determined by a parent's modified adjusted gross income (AGI) from their 2019 or 2020 taxes. (AGI is the sum of one's wages, interest, dividends, alimony, retirement distributions and other sources of income minus certain deductions, such as student loan interest, alimony payments and retirement contributions.) The amount phases out at a rate of $50 for every $1,000 of annual income beyond $75,000 for an individual and beyond $150,000 for a married couple. The benefit will be fully refundable. In other words, it will not depend on the recipient's current tax burden. Qualifying households will receive the full amount, regardless of what they owe in taxes. There is no limit to the number of dependents that can be claimed.

Suppose a married couple has a four-year-old child and an eight-year-old child along with an annual joint income of $120,000 on their 2020 taxes. The IRS would send them a monthly check for $550 starting on July 15. That's $300 per month ($3,600 / 12) for the younger child and $250 per month ($3,000 / 12) for the older child. Those checks would last through December. The couple would then receive the $3,300 balance -- $1,800 ($300 X 6) for the younger child and $1,500 ($250 X 6) for the older child -- as part of their 2021 tax refund.

Parents of a child who ages out of an age bracket will be paid the lesser amount. That means if a five-year-old turns six in 2021, the parents will receive a total credit of $3,000 for the year, not $3,600. Likewise, if a 17-year-old turns 18 in 2021, the parents will receive $500, not $3,000.

An income increase in 2021 to an amount above the $75,000 ($150,000) threshold could lower a household's Child Tax Credit. The IRS has confirmed that they'll soon allow claimants to adjust their income and custodial information online, thus lowering their payments. Failure to do so could increase one's tax bill or reduce one's tax refund once 2021 taxes are filed.

Eligibility requires that the dependent be a part of the household for at least half of the year and be at least half supported by the taxpayer. A taxpayer who makes above $95,000 ($170,000) -- where the income limits phase out entirely-- will not be eligible for the expanded credit. But they can still claim the existing $2,000 credit per child.

What Does The Child Tax Credit Update Portal Do?

The Child Tax Credit Update Portal allows users to make sure they are registered to receive advance payments. It also lets recipients opt out of advance payments in favor of a one-time credit when filing their 2021 taxes. The initial deadline for opting out of monthly payments has passed, but the next one is August 2. Subsequent opt-out deadlines for payments going forward will occur three days before the first Thursday of the month for which someone intends to opt out. Here are the remaining opt-out deadlines:

  • Payment Date: August 13 / Opt-Out Deadline: August 2
  • Payment Date: September 15 / Opt-Out Deadline: August 30
  • Payment Date: October 15 / Opt-Out Deadline: October 4
  • Payment Date: November 15 / Opt-Out Deadline: November 1
  • Payment Date: December 15 / Opt-Out Deadline: November 29

The Child Tax Credit Update Portal now also allows users to add or modify bank account information for direct deposit. The updated information will apply to the August payment and those after it.

Other changes to the portal are pending. In early August, users will be able to update their address. And before the end of the summer, users will gain the ability to update dependent, marital, and income information and opt back in to monthly payments, if they previously opted out.

To access this portal, users need an IRS username or an account. is a sign-in service used by various government agencies, including the IRS, Social Security Administration and Treasury Department, to authenticate users. Users need valid photo identification to create an account.

From the portal page, a user should click the "Manage Advance Payments" button. Log into your account on the next page, or create an account. Once logged in, a user can view their eligibility and change how the Credit will be received.

What Other IRS Tools Are Available?

The Child Tax Credit Non-Filer Sign-Up Tool is to help parents of children born before 2021 who don't typically file taxes but qualify for advance Child Tax Credit payments. That means parents who have not filed their 2020 taxes, are not required to file, and don't plan to file. (Parents who claimed their dependents on their 2019 tax return should not use this tool.)

Users enter their personal information, including their name, mailing address, email address, date of birth, relevant social security numbers, bank account information, and identity protection PIN. The IRS uses the information to check eligibility and, once confirmed, will begin making payments. The IRS and experts advise using the tool on a desktop or laptop computer rather than a mobile device.

The Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant lets parents check if they are eligible to receive advance Child Tax Credit payments. Users will need a copy of their 2020 tax return or, barring that, their 2019 tax return. It's also reasonable to estimate income and expenses from the appropriate tax year, though the result may not be accurate. The assistant asks multiple questions to determine eligibility, but does not ask for sensitive information. No entries are recorded.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.