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Manage your monthly child tax credit payments with an ID.me account. Here's how

Before you can update your household details, opt out or check on your payments, you'll need to set up an IRS account. We'll show you how.

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You'll need to set up an account through ID.me to inform the IRS of changes to your income or number of dependents. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Didn't get your child tax credit payment last week? Maybe you got more than you anticipated or you've decided you don't want to receive the monthly payments anymore. To manage your payments, you'll need to set up an account with the IRS through ID.me. An account comes with important benefits: Right now, you'll need one to unenroll from monthly payments and update your direct deposit information. Soon, you'll be able to update your mailing address and other changes to your household situation, like your number of dependents or income. 

Why is that important? Since this year's child tax credit is a bit more complicated (with half the total credit coming as partial prepayments through 2021 and the other half coming with next year's taxes), an online account gives families a direct means to monitor their money and make sure they're getting the right credit amount. It also gives parents the option of deferring those prepayments to get one larger payment in 2022. 

We'll explain what to do to set up an ID.me account, which requires a couple layers of identity verification. When setting up an account, some parents have reported error code 2001, so we'll tell you what we know about that, as well. For more, here's how to calculate the estimated total of your child tax credit checks. You can also double-check your eligibility and learn more about how the advance child tax credit checks could impact your taxes next year

Why do I need to create an ID.me account for the child tax credit? 

ID.me is an online tool used by the IRS, the Department of the Treasury, the Social Security Administration and other government agencies to verify your identification. Once you've been verified on a site that uses ID.me, you can use the same login information on any other site that uses the secure login service.

Right now, the IRS is using ID.me just for its child tax credit tools. If you don't want to collect the advance child tax credit payments this year and would rather get one big payout next year, you'll need this account with the IRS to do so. If you already have an IRS account and username, you can use that instead. 

Here are some reasons why you might want to unenroll and what the deadlines are to do so.

How do I sign up for an ID.me account?

Before you get started, you'll want to gather a handful of items, including your Social Security number, a photo ID -- such as a driver's license or passport -- and a phone or computer with a camera.

1. Head to the Child Tax Credit Update Portal and tap the blue button, Unenroll from Advance Payments. On the next page, tap the button marked ID.me Create an account.

2. Now, enter your email address and choose a password, then tap Create account.

3. Read more about the ID.me service and tap Continue.

4. ID.me will ask you to confirm your email address and give you the option to set up multifactor authentication -- an extra step you can take to prove it's actually you making the request and not someone else trying to access your account.

5. Next, upload a picture of your photo ID. Then take and upload a selfie, using your phone or computer camera. If you want to use your phone, ID.me will text send a message with a link to take and submit your photos.

6. Once you've uploaded your images, you'll enter your Social Security number and confirm other information you've entered. When you're ready, click Continue.

7. ID.me will send you a text message confirming that you want to set up an account. If you want to go ahead, click Allow and continue on the ID.me page to send verification to the IRS. 

If ID.me is unable to verify you, you will be given the option to have a video call with a "Trusted Referee" to complete your verification.

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Why am I getting error code 2001?

Several Reddit forums have posts from people who say they are getting an error code 2001 when using their ID.me account to log into the website with the message, "A condition has been identified that's preventing your access to this service."

A user who seems to represent ID.me said they don't recognize the error code as an ID.me message, and the IRS does not list the code as a common error. It appears as though some users may be getting this code from a software malfunction. We've reached out to the IRS for comment.

Here's more about rules for you and your dependents to qualify for payments. For more financial benefits this year, here's how to save money on child care expenses.