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How Much Is the Child Tax Credit in 2023 and Who Is Eligible?

The child tax credit has returned to its pre-pandemic amount, but it's still a big boost for many families.

Dan Avery Writer
Dan is a writer on CNET's How-To team. His byline has appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, NBC News, Architectural Digest and elsewhere. He is a crossword junkie and is interested in the intersection of tech and marginalized communities.
Expertise Personal Finance, Government and Policy, Consumer Affairs
Dan Avery
4 min read
a paper with the words Child Tax Credit on it sits on a desk next to a pair of glasses and a stack of $100 bills

During the pandemic, the child tax credit was increased to $3,600 a year for young children.

Getty Images

The expanded child tax credit was one of the most successful anti-poverty measures in recent history, lifting more than 2 million children out of poverty, according to data from the US Census. Along with providing more money per child, the expanded credit introduced advance monthly payments and make the money totally refundable.

However, the US government was unable to agree on extending the expanded child tax credit past 2021. For the 2022 tax year -- which is the tax return that's due on April 18, 2023 -- the child tax credit drops back down to its pre-pandemic level.

Learn how the child tax credit works in 2023 and how much money you can get. For more tax tips, learn which divorced parent gets to claim the child tax credit and all the tax breaks you can get from your home.

How much is the child tax credit in 2023?

The maximum tax credit available per child has reverted to its pre-expansion level of $2,000 for each child under 17 on Dec. 31, 2022

For tax year 2021, the expanded child tax credit was $3,600 for children 5 and under and $3,000 for children ages 6 to 17. That is no longer the case. (The age requirement was also temporarily extended to under 18 on Dec. 31. But that's gone, too.)  

Who is eligible for the child tax credit?

To be eligible for the tax break for tax year 2022, you and your family must meet these requirements:

  • You have a modified adjusted gross income, or MAGI, of $200,000 or less, or $400,000 or less if you're filing jointly.
  • The child you're claiming the credit for was under the age of 17on Dec. 31, 2022.
  • They have a valid Social Security number.
  • They are your legally recognized child, stepchild, foster child, sibling, half-brother or half-sister, or a descendant of one of these categories (like a grandchild or niece or nephew).
  • They have contributed no more than half of their own financial support in the relevant tax year.
  • They have lived with you for over half the year.
  • You are claiming them as a dependent on your tax return.
  • You are a US citizen or resident alien.

Go to the IRS website for more information.

If your MAGI is higher than the income limits, the amount of child tax credit you receive will decrease $50 for every $1,000 above the limit. For example, a MAGI of $210,000 as an individual would allow you to claim $1,500 for each eligible child. 

The child tax credit is phased out completely at $240,000 for individuals and $480,000 for married couples filing jointly.

Note: If you search online for information on the child tax credit, you may come across details on the 2021 expanded tax breaks, so double-check that you're viewing the most recent information.

Mark Steber, chief tax information officer at Jackson-Hewitt, says many government sites keep historical information live "for people playing catch-up with their taxes." 

"Toward the end of last year, there was an expectation the expansion of the child tax credit would be continued. There was some surprise it didn't happen," Steber told CNET. "So you might see some discontinuity on some sites."

How do I claim the child tax credit?

You can claim the child tax credit by entering your eligible children on your Form 1040 and attaching a completed Schedule 8812, Credits for Qualifying Children and Other Dependents

What if the credit is more than what I owe in taxes?

Unlike last year, the child tax credit is once again nonrefundable. Meaning, if your tax liability exceeds what you get from the credit, you forfeit the difference.

You may still be able to claim the additional child tax credit, which refunds up to $1,500 per child. (To see if you qualify for the additional child tax credit, fill out the worksheet for IRS Form 8812.)

If you paid for childcare, you may also qualify for the child and dependent care credit. Depending on your circumstances, you can declare 20% to 35% of your childcare expenses.

The maximum you can claim is $3,000 for one child under 13 or a dependent with disabilities, or $6,000 for two or more. 

You must have some earned income to qualify for this credit, and the care can't have been provided by a spouse or family member.

Other federal income tax breaks available to families include adoption credits, education credits and the earned income tax credit.

Is there a state child tax credit?

A dozen states -- California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma and Vermont -- have some form of tax credit that benefits families, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. And many others are considering implementing the tax break.

Requirements and benefits vary, so check with your state tax portal for details.
For more tax tips, find out when you can expect your refund, and get the lowdown on some surprising deductions.