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Most families can look out for a check from the IRS. This first payment as part of the advance child tax credit in 2021 means that most families will be eligible to receive up to $3,600 per child between now and 2022, in a series of monthly payments (mostly). That’s where the simplicity ends.

For example: You can unenroll from monthly child tax credit payments and get one large check next year instead, starting in August. Two IRS portals do two different things to help you manage your payments, after you set up a new account.
You’ll get a different payment amount depending on the age of your kids (here are cases where kids won’t qualify). If you get paid too much, you may owe the IRS money in 2022.
Babies born in 2021 are likely eligible, but you may have to take an extra step to claim them. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by child tax credit facts and figures, this FAQ should help. We’ve also compiled some information on how parents might want to use the money and how to claim up to $16,000 more for your child care costs, much more than you could claim in previous years. This story is updated regularly.

When does the first child tax credit go out in the mail or to my bank account?
The first thing to know is you won’t get your child tax credit payments all at once in 2021. Unless you tell the IRS you want to unenroll from the advance monthly payments, you’ll get six checks in 2021 and one in 2022. The second thing to know is that half of your total child tax credit payment will come this year through those monthly payments, with the other half coming in one lump sum as part of your tax refund in 2022. So in other words, your largest payment arives next year. Until then, you get six smaller payments this year to start using right away. The idea is to bring you money sooner, which is why the checks will start coming in 2021 as “advance payments.”
How to opt out of the child tax credit monthly payments You don’t have to receive the advance monthly child tax credit payments this year. Instead, you can choose to get one payment in 2022, and the IRS Child Tax Credit Update Portal will allow you to do so. You may want to unenroll if you’d rather have one large payment for a projected expense in 2022, or if you’re concerned the IRS might overpay you this year and you don’t want to be saddled with an outstanding debt later.
To stop advance checks, the IRS says you must unenroll three days before the first Thursday of the following month. See the chart below for deadlines. Once you unenroll in this year’s advance payments, you can’t yet re-enroll, though the IRS says it will make a re-enrollment option available later. Also note that for couples who are married and filing jointly, each parent must unenroll separately.
Child tax credit portals: How they’re helpful In June, the IRS opened more online tools and portals. The first portal is for people not normally required to file an income tax return, including low-income families. And the Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant tool — available in English and now in Spanish — helps families quickly determine whether they qualify.
The latest Child Tax Credit Update Portal currently allows families to view their eligibility, manage their payments and unenroll from the advance monthly payments. It also now lets parents update their direct deposit information. In the coming months,
it will allow families to update other information if their circumstances have changed, such as mailing address, marital status, income or dependents — for example, if a new child has arrived or will arrive in 2021 and isn’t reflected on a 2020 tax return. Do you earn too much or too little to get the payments?
Income limits determine how much you will receive and if you even qualify, though there is no limit on the numberof children you can receive credit for as long as you’re eligible.
Single filers earning less than $75,000 per year, heads of household earning less than $112,500 per year and married couples earning less than $150,000 a year will be eligible for the full amount.
The amount you’ll get will then phase out for higher incomes. Your child tax credit payments will phase out by $50 for every $1,000 of income over those threshold amounts, according to Joanna Powell, managing director and certified financial planner at CBIZ. In other words, your family could still receive some money above those income limits, but it won’t be for the maximum payment.

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