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CNET child tax credit calculator: This is how much money you'll get each payment

Our child tax credit calculator uses the number and ages of your eligible kids, along with your yearly income, to estimate how much money to expect in all seven upcoming payments.

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

Sarah Tew/CNET

You could get a total of seven checks over the next 12 months as part of the expanded child tax credit for 2021 (or one big check if you opt-out). Under the newly revised credit, you'll get more money per child and will also receive your payment sooner. The math is complicated, with confusing qualification rules and the payment schedule split into uneven chunks. For example, did you know that you could get less if your adjusted gross income for 2021 is above a certain threshold

Below, you can find out how much to expect per payment with CNET's child tax credit calculator -- we'll explain what happens if your child ages out of a payment bracket. There are also rules that parents who share custody of a kid should know, and additional facts for parents of 2021 babies. You shouldn't need to file an amended tax form if you already submitted your taxes (how to track if the IRS processed them). 

More child tax credit payment details are expected after the IRS sends more stimulus checks, including "plus-up payments." After calculating your estimated child tax credit, keep reading for more payment details. Then, see if your state owes you money and new rules to save on COBRA, FSA and insurance costs. Here's what we know about a fourth stimulus check and student loan forgiveness. This story was recently updated.

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2021 Child tax credit calculator: Here's how much money you'll get

The new child tax credit raises the 2020 limits from up to $2,000 per child to a maximum of $3,600 -- but the situation 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, and both 18-year-olds and full-time college students 24 and under can bring parents a $500 one-time 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 equal to or less than $75,000 as a single filer, $112,500 as a head of household or $150,000 filing jointly, you'll receive the full amount. If your income is higher, your child tax credit payments will begin to phase out by $50 for every $1,000 of income over the threshold.

You can opt out of getting monthly payments

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

Opting out would mean that instead of receiving a $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 if your kid ages out of one of the payment brackets?

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 get 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.

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Child tax credit details for parents of 2021 babies

Children born in 2021 make you eligible to receive the 2021 tax credit for $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.

Important overpayment and income facts you'll want to know

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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How your 2020 tax return could affect your child tax credit total

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.

Additional qualifications your dependents must meet

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.