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New child tax credit update: This is how much money you'll get each month

Our child tax credit calculator uses your income and the number of dependents you have to estimate how much money you'll get. It's quick and easy to use.

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

Sarah Tew/CNET

Ready for your child tax credit payments to start arriving? If you qualify, you'll start receiving your payments in July on a monthly basis, per the IRS. Half of your 2021 child tax credit will be sent out each month until December, with the other half arriving with your 2021 tax refund. Instead of guessing how much you'll get -- because that can be complicated -- we've got a calculator tool you can use to estimate the total amount you'll get with the split payments. 

Your child's age and your income determine how much you'll get -- it could be anywhere from $500 to $3,600 (your shared custody also plays a role). If your income reaches above the cutoff, you'll get a smaller payment. And if your child doesn't meet all the requirements, you might not get any money. Calculating your payment becomes even more complex if you've got multiple children -- especially if one reaches one of the age brackets by the end of 2021.

Use our child tax credit calculator below to get an estimate of what you could get this year and next. While you're here, this is what's going on with the plus-up payments from the third stimulus checks. Also, here's what we know about a fourth stimulus check, the situation with student loan forgiveness and extra savings you can get now for health care, like cheaper insurance. This story is frequently updated.

Calculate the total amount you'll get with the 2021 child tax credit split between this year and next

Child tax credit payments for 2021 allot up to $3,600 per child aged 5 and under, and $3,000 for kids between the ages of 6 and 17. You can get a $500 total payment for dependents who are 18 and for full-time college students between 19 and 24 years old. If your adjusted gross income, or 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.

Just enter your details below to see how big your child tax credit checks will be. This calculator does not store 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 planner 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.


What if your child reaches an age cutoff by the end of 2021?

If you have a 5-year-old child 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 the 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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What if your income changes after child tax credit payments start going out? 

If you start receiving advance payments this year for your 2020 taxes, but you get a new job making more money, you'll likely be able to use an IRS CTC portal the agency will make available to update your information, according to Garrett Watson, a senior policy analyst at Tax Foundation. Doing so would lower the payment amounts you'd receive if your new income reaches the phaseout level (see above).

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 credit on your 2021 tax return next spring, Watson says, or you'll get a smaller amount on your 2021 refund.

Rettig said the portal will launch by July 1, and families can use it to make adjustments as needed.

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How do your taxes and the 2021 child tax credit check determine your 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' 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.

For more information, here's when the 2021 child tax credits could be sent, who qualifies for the CTC, and eligibility requirements kids must meet. Also, if you share custody of a child, here's everything you need to know about getting the payments.