Child care tax credit: file a tax return for 2020 and 2021 to get the funds

Watch this short video to learn about child care tax credits!

The IRS opened two online child tax credit portals.

That's where you'll change your status and more. Here is a page that tells you all about the child tax credit.

If you're eligible for the child tax credit payments, you should get a head start on calculating how much money you'll get.


Monthly Maximum* payment per child aged 5 and younger Maximum* payment per child aged 6 to 17
July 15: First 2021 check $300 $250
Aug. 13 $300 $250
Sept. 15 $300 $250
Oct. 15 $300 $250
Nov. 15 $300 $250
Dec. 15: Last 2021 check $300 $250
April 2022: Second half of payment $1,800 $1,500
*Monthly payments could be adjusted to higher amounts if the IRS missed a previous payment  

The IRS has two portals for families with qualifying dependents so they can update their information.

The portals are available for you to:

  • register (if you don't normally file a tax return),
  • update information (if there's a change in the number of dependents) and to 
  • opt out of the monthly payments if you want a larger check instead. 

On the 15th of each month, the advance child tax credit payments will be sent out -- unless it falls on a weekend or holiday.

Each check could be as much as $300 per child depending on the child's age by the end of 2021. Parents should be aware of the income limit and other requirements to get the full payment per child.

Here's what the White House says about the child tax credit.

Here are some different ways to use your child tax credit checks, how you may receive your payment and how you can claim an additional $8,000 to $16,000 credit for child care expenses.

What can you do?

Taxpayer families will be able to make changes to any life circumstances since they last filed their taxes, such as an income change and child custody status.

For example, if you started making less money this year, you'll want to update the IRS about those changes so you can get the correct child tax credit amount.

If you had or will have a new baby this year, it's important to let the IRS know, so you can receive your payment for up to $3,600 for that child.

The same applies if you adopted a child or if you gained a new child dependent since you last filed your taxes. 

Also, if you've gained full custody of your child, you'll be the parent who receives the money for your kid. Note that parents who have shared custody will not each get a payment.

This is important for domestic violence survivors, Nina Olson, executive director of the Center for Taxpayer Rights said during an IRS oversight hearing.

"That change of circumstances portal should allow them to enter their change in marital status and also where the children are."

Can families opt out of monthly payments using one of the IRS portals?

The main portal will let you opt out of receiving the monthly child tax credit payments.

What does that mean? It means that instead of receiving monthly payments of, say, $300 for your 4-year-old, you can wait until you file your 2021 taxes next year to receive the $3,600 lump sum amount.

You may also want to opt out because you're expecting your circumstances to change and don't want to update your information in the portal.

Will the online portals be useful for people who don't normally file taxes?

The IRS will open a second portal dedicated to people who don't typically file their income taxes.

This child tax credit portal allows this group to give the IRS their updated information, including the number and ages of their qualifying child dependents. 

The portal lets tax nonfilers submit a simplified electronic form to the IRS to secure their eligibility. This group includes people who don't have bank accounts, as well as the homeless population.

What can families do that don't have a permanent address right now? 

Right now, the IRS is urging people to share information about the child tax credit to those who don't have permanent addresses.

By doing this, you're helping make sure eligible people receive the payments they're eligible for. You can share the information about the portals with them so they know about the programs to help them file a tax return.


Updated December 13, 2021

Child care tax credit: file a tax return for 2020 and 2021 to get the funds

Table of Contents