Child tax credit calculator: See how much money you’ll get July 15

piggy bank and cash with calculator

Families can expect to start receiving their enhanced 2021 child tax credit payments this summer. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you’re one of the millions who qualifies for the child tax credit payments, your first payment is scheduled to arrive on July 15. But you don’t have to wait that long to find out how much money is coming your way — you can calculate how much your family qualifies for now. We have a child tax credit calculator below that can estimate your total amount. You’ll also see how much to anticipate per child — up to $300 per month — that will arrive monthly through December.

After the monthly payments are finished being delivered this year, parents can expect the rest to arrive after filing their income tax return in 2022. Two IRS portals will be available by July 1 so that families can update the IRS on their changes to income and number of dependents. The online portals will also let parents opt out of monthly payments if they prefer to receive the total amount as one lump sum in 2022. For those who filed this year’s taxes before the American Rescue Plan in March, there is no need to file an amended tax form — the IRS will still deliver those payments.

It hasn’t yet been confirmed whether the enhanced child tax credit payments will be extended into 2025, but there is a possibility in one of the upcoming stimulus bills. The IRS continues to send out stimulus checks and “plus-up” payments but will soon focus attention on the child tax credit rollout. The tax agency is disbursing tax refunds to as many as 10 million people who received unemployment benefits in 2020. Parents should know about getting $16,000 back for child care expenses. Here’s what we can say about a possible fourth stimulus check and what is happening with unemployment benefits. We continue to update this story frequently.

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Calculate your child tax credit payment total (it’s simple)

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 age 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.

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.

This is the IRS payment schedule for 2021 and 2022

Here’s how the child tax credit payments will arrive, starting July 15 through 2022.

Timeline for the child tax credit payments

Monthly Payment ages 5 and younger Payment ages 6 to 17
July 15, 2021: First payment of the year $300 $250
Aug. 16, 2021 $300 $250
Sept. 15, 2021 $300 $250
Oct. 15, 2021 $300 $250
Nov. 15, 2021 $300 $250
Dec. 15, 2021: Last payment of the year $300 $250
April 2022: Second half of payment $1,800 $1,500

Opting out of the monthly enhanced child tax credit payments

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 its online portals to help you make that decision and input other information, like if your AGI or other changed circumstances. It’ll be the second, separate portal that will allow families to tell the IRS they want to receive the benefit in full at tax time at the end of the year rather than on a monthly basis.

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.


Parents with new babies in 2021 will be able to claim up to $3,600 total.

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New parents can qualify for the bigger 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.

Determining eligibility for each of your kids 

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. You should also see if you’re eligible for a child care tax credit if you paid for a day care, after-school program or babysitter. 

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The deal if a child ages out of a bracket before the end of 2021

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. 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.

How 2020 tax returns determine the amount of your child tax credit payment 

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 deadline, 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.

How to handle IRS overpayment if it happens

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.