Child tax credit: IRS portals will help you get monthly payments, update information and opt out

Child tax credit: IRS portals will help you get monthly payments, update information and opt out

Parents might want to revise their income or the number of dependents before receiving a child tax credit check.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Parents who qualify for the advance child tax credit payments may want to calculate how much they should expect to receive before the payments roll out in July. Prior to sending the first batch of partial monthly checks, the IRS will make two online portals available for families with qualifying dependents. The portals can be helpful to register (if you don’t normally file a tax return), to update information (if there’s a change in the number of dependents) and to opt out of the monthly payments if you want a single lump sum instead. 

We’ll share what we know here. The advance child tax credit payments will go out on the 15th of each month. 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.

As we receive more details, we will update this story frequently to explain the separate IRS portals. 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 with the upcoming online child tax credit portals?

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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Child tax credit: Everything we know



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When can eligible families get access to the IRS portals?

The IRS has set an open deadline of July 1, though we don’t have an exact 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.

Can families opt out of monthly payments through the 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 portals be useful for parents 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 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, as well as the homeless population.

How about families that don’t have a permanent address? 

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.

piggy bank, calculator and magnifying glass

One of the IRS’ portals will allow those who don’t typically file taxes to update their information.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Child tax credit portals — some information is to be determined

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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