Families can now opt out of the monthly Child Tax Credit (CTC) payments through an online tool on the Internal Revenue Service's website, just over three weeks before the agency sends out the first payments.
Americans can also check their eligibility using an additional tool the IRS introduced on Tuesday.
“IRS employees continue to work hard to help people receive this important credit,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement on Tuesday. “We will be working across the nation with partner groups to share information and help eligible people receive the advance payments."
Families can use "The Child Tax Credit Update Portal" to unenroll from the monthly payments and instead receive the full credit after they file their 2021 tax return. The IRS plans to update the portal later this year, so users can view their payment history and adjust their banking information or mailing addresses. An IRS username, an ID.me account, or photo identification are needed to use the tool.
Using the "Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant," families can determine whether they're eligible for the advance payments by answering a series of questions.
The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan passed in March includes a one-year expansion of the CTC that increases the credit amount and allows half of it to be distributed in periodic payments in advance starting July 15.
The maximum credit in 2021 is $3,600 for children under 6 and $3,000 for children between 6 and 17. The six advance monthly payments will be sent out on July 15, August 13, September 15, October 15, 15, and December 15.
Here’s what else you need to know about the monthly payments.
How much will my payment be?
Eligible households will receive half of their total payments in advance over the next six months beginning in July and ending in December. The monthly payments will be $250 for older children and $300 for children under 6.
The amount will be determined by their 2020 tax return. If that return is not available, the IRS will use their 2019 return.
A single filer with children under 17 making up to $75,000 will receive the full payment for each child, while those earning up to $90,000 will get a reduced amount. Joint filers with children making up to $150,000 will get the full credit for their child, while those earning up to $170,000 will receive a smaller amount.
Single filers making over $200,000 and joint filers making over $400,000 will be eligible for the old credit, which is $2,000 per child under 17.
Who is eligible?
The IRS will use your 2020 federal tax return and income to determine whether you’re eligible for the credit. The advanced payments equal half of an eligible household's total credit, while the remaining half of the credit can be claimed on your 2021 tax return.
The payments would be made to eligible taxpayers who have a main home in the U.S. for more than half a year.
The CTC was also made fully refundable, which allows taxpayers to get the credit as a refund even if it’s worth more than what they owe in taxes.
Households of approximately 65 million children — or 88% of U.S. kids — will be eligible, the Treasury Department said in May. The payments will be delivered through direct deposit, paper check, or debit cards.
What should I do to claim the credit?
Most taxpayers shouldn’t take additional action to file for the credit besides filing their 2020 tax return if they haven’t done so already.
Families who don’t file tax returns can now provide information on themselves and their qualifying children using the "Child Tax Credit Non-filer Sign-up Tool."
Additionally, eligible taxpayers who don't want to receive advance payments for 2021 can now decline to receive the monthly payments through "The Child Tax Credit Update Portal."
Can the credit become permanent?
As part of his American Families Plan, President Joe Biden is proposing to extend the expansion of the CTC through 2025. He has previously said that the administration aims to make the benefit permanent.
Some lawmakers also support making permanent the expansion of the CTC and the expanded Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
"We must not allow these critical expansions to expire after one year," 40 Democratic senators wrote in a letter in March. "Doing so would result in a significant spike in child poverty, after we have made historic strides to end it. It would mean that millions of struggling adult workers would once again be taxed into poverty."