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Advance child tax credit 2021: Will you get $500, $3,000 or $3,600 for each child?

You can get a quick estimate of how much money you can receive each month -- and see your total amount, too -- with CNET's child tax credit calculator.

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Calculate how much money you could get from the revised 2021 child tax credit.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The first of your child tax credit payments may not arrive until July. But you don't have to wait till this summer to see how big a payment you and your dependents qualify for. CNET's child tax credit calculator can give you an estimate now of your monthly payments and your total amount over 2021 and 2022. (Here's how to spend or save the money when it comes.)

The advance payments will work differently this year than the child credit has in past years: Half of the amount will arrive monthly July through December, and the amount of money you have remaining will come in 2022 when you file your tax return. (President Joe Biden is pushing for the payments to be extended to 2025 in his next two stimulus proposals.) However, you can choose to opt out of monthly payments and receive just one payment in 2022 through a portal the IRS is expected to launch by July 1.

If you filed your taxes filed before the American Rescue Plan was passed in March, you shouldn't need to file an amended tax form. (Track your tax status with the IRS.) The IRS is still sending stimulus checks and "plus-up" payments, but will soon be able to focus on the child tax credit payment details. While you're here, see how to find out if the IRS has an unclaimed tax refund for you and how some could save up to $50,000 on their taxes this year. Also, here's how you can get up to $16,000 back for child care expenses. Here's what we know about a fourth check and what is happening with student loan forgiveness. This story is frequently updated.

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Calculate the amount of the child tax credit payment you'll get for 2021 and 2022

The expanded child tax credit raises the 2020 limits from up to $2,000 per child to a maximum of $3,600 -- but the math gets complicated fast. Qualified children aged 5 and under count for $3,600. Kids between 6 and 17 years old count for $3,000 maximum per child; 18-year-olds and full-time college students 24 and under can bring parents a one-time $500 payment. 

Enter your details below, including your adjusted gross income, or AGI, to see your payment breakdown. This calculator does not store or use your data. The results are based on our current knowledge of the law and should be treated as broad estimates only (the IRS will determine the final amount). We suggest consulting a financial professional for a more personalized estimate.

Child tax credit calculator for 2021

Use details from your 2019 or 2020 tax return.

1. Choose your filing status below.

2. What was your adjusted gross income (AGI)?

3. Number of children age 5 and under by December 31, 2021.

4. Number of children age 6 to 17 by December 31, 2021.

Calculate

Note: If your AGI is less than or equal to $75,000 as a single filer, $112,500 as a head of household or $150,000 filing jointly, you'll receive the full amount. For incomes higher than $150,000, your child tax credit payments will begin to phase out by $50 for every $1,000 of income over the threshold.

IRS payment schedule: How it will work

Here's how the payments will arrive, starting in July through 2022.

Timeline for the child tax credit payments

Monthly Payment ages 5 and younger Payment ages 6 to 17
July 2021: First payment of the year $300 $250
August 2021 $300 $250
September 2021 $300 $250
October 2021 $300 $250
November 2021 $300 $250
December 2021: Last payment of the year $300 $250
April 2022: Second half of payment $1,800 $1,500

You'll be able to opt out of receiving the smaller monthly payments. Here's what to know

If you'd rather get your 2021 child tax credit money as one large payment, you'll be able to opt out of monthly payments once the IRS opens the online portal to help you make that decision and input other information, like if your AGI or other changed circumstances. The IRS is expected to open its child tax credit website by July 1. 

Opting out would mean that instead of receiving $300 per month for your 3-year-old, and the remainder of your money in 2022 for example, you can wait until you file your taxes next year to claim the full $3,600 amount.

What happens if your kids age out of a payment bracket by the end of December?

If you have a 5-year-old turning 6 by the end of the year, the total payment amount you could get for that child is $3,000. If you have a 17-year-old who turns 18 before the end of the year, you would receive $500 total for that dependent instead of $3,000. 

Here's more information about qualifications your child must meet for you to receive advance payments. Also, if you have a dependent who is a full-time college student and turns 25 this year, you won't receive any payment for them.

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If you had a baby any time in 2021, you'll be able to claim up to $3,600 for your new addition.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Parents who have newborn babies or a newly adopted child: You're eligible for the larger payment amount

Children born in 2021 make you eligible for the 2021 tax credit of $3,600 per child (that's up to $7,200 for twins). That's on top of payments for any other qualified child dependents you claim. Here's our guide for parents of 2021 babies, including what parents of adopted infants should know.

IRS overpayment and income: Make sure you know these details

Your family's eligibility is determined in large part by your adjusted gross income. So what happens if you get a new job or start making more money in 2021? What happens if the payments have already gone out and you spent the money?

The IRS has a plan for this, a child tax credit portal the agency will make available by July 1 so you can update your information. If you need to make an adjustment, it will lower the payment amounts you'd receive if your new income reaches the phaseout level, according to Garrett Watson, a senior policy analyst at Tax Foundation.

If you wait until 2022 to update your information when you file your taxes and you continue to receive the full amount based on your lower income, you would either have to return the excess money on your 2021 tax return next spring, according to Watson, accept a smaller 2021 refund or owe more in taxes.

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Your submitted 2020 tax return will determine how much child tax credit money you'll get this year and next

You need to file your 2020 taxes to get the credit if you're a nonfiler. The IRS will automatically make the payments for those who have their taxes filed by the May 17 tax due date, the IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said. So if you don't have your tax return submitted by this time, the IRS won't know to send you a payment. Also, if you plan to file a tax extension, you'll likely be able to use the IRS portal, where you can update your information in case you've gained dependents since the last tax filing.

Your dependents have eligibility rules to meet, too

There are some specific rules regarding qualifications not just for parents and caregivers, but for the children, too. Here's what to know about dependent qualifications for the child tax credit. And here's how you could get up to $50,000 back through one-time credits and benefits.