Child tax credit: 2 IRS portals will help you get your money. Here’s what they’re for

Child tax credit: 2 IRS portals will help you get your money. Here's what they're for

Two IRS portals for the 2021 child tax credit will open by July 1 to help you keep your information current.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The first child tax credit payments are coming July 15 (calculate your total here). But before that happens, the IRS will open two portals for eligible families with qualifying dependents. You’ll use these to update your information, opt out of the monthly payments and make sure you’re registered if you don’t normally file taxes. We’ll explain all the details below.

The child tax credit 2021 checks will arrive monthly, with payments as much as $300 per child each month, or $3,600 total — depending on your children’s age by the end of the year. Note that there’s an income limit you must meet in order to get the full payment.

We’ll explain what we know so far about the separate IRS portals — and what we don’t yet know. Here are some different ways to use your child tax credit checks. Here’s how you can claim an additional $8,000 to $16,000 credit for child care expenses.

What is the IRS’ online child tax credit portal for?

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.”

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Can I use the child tax credit portal to opt out of monthly payments?

The main portal mentioned above will also 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 child, 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.

What if I don’t typically 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 will allow this group to give the IRS their updated information, including the number and ages of their qualifying child dependents. 

The portal is expected to let tax nonfilers submit a simplified electronic form to the IRS, to secure their eligibility. This group would include people who don’t have bank accounts, and the homeless population.

piggy bank, calculator and magnifying glass

One portal will allow those who don’t typically file taxes to update their information.

Sarah Tew/CNET

When will the child tax credit portals go online?

The IRS has set an open date by July 1, though we don’t have an exact target date yet. The portals could come online sooner than that. The IRS is simultaneously processing tens of millions of tax returns, which may affect the timeline while it also organizes the child tax credit program.

What don’t we know about the child tax credit portals

There are still plenty of details that are still unclear about the IRS’ child tax credit portals, including:

  • The exact date the portals will be available to families.
  • How the portals will work for families updating their information.
  • How families will differentiate between the two portals.
  • The process for opting out of the monthly payments.

For more child tax credit 2021 details, here’s how much money you can expect to get. Also, here’s what it takes for you and your dependents to qualify for the payments.

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