Child tax credit payments start Thursday. Use this IRS tool to see if you qualify


Some parents are eligible for up to $3,600 with the advanced child tax credit. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

The first child tax credit check is just days away. Starting Thursday, parents could see as much as $300 per child in their bank accounts or by mail each month. But parents who don’t qualify and still receive the money may have to repay the IRS. The good news is that the IRS has an online tool to check eligibility, and on Monday a Spanish version was released. The Advance Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant asks a few quick questions online based on your most recent tax return, like your income, filing status and number of children, to determine if you qualify for advanced payments.

Families that qualify will automatically will get monthly payments via direct deposit or mail as an advance of next year’s tax season. In the past, the credit was issued in full during tax season. This year, half of the money will be sent in monthly payments, and you’ll get the remainder when you file your taxes next year. If your dependents are aged 17 and under, you’ll get half of the total credit through these monthly checks. Your total amount will depend on your income and dependents’ age. There’s also this tidbit of news: if you prefer to just get the total amount in spring 2022, you have time to opt out before Aug. 2 using the Child Tax Credit Update Portal

If you’re eligible — the vast majority of households with children will be — use CNET’s child tax credit calculator to see how much money you can expect. It could be up to $3,600 per kid between 2021 and 2022. If you don’t have an account with the IRS yet, you can set one up using Also, here’s what you need to know about how the child tax credit will affect your taxes. We will update this story as needed. 

What tax information do I need to check my eligibility online? 

Before you begin, make sure you’ve got a copy of your 2020 tax return, or your 2019 tax return if you haven’t yet filed your taxes this year (for example, if you filed an extension). If you don’t have a tax return on hand, you can use your filing status and the number of children you claimed, along with an estimate of your total income for 2020. 

How do I use the Eligibility Assistant on the IRS website?

Once you’ve figured out what your income was for either 2020 or 2019, you can check your eligibility. Here’s how.

1. Go to the Advance Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant tool page on the IRS website.

2. Tap or click Check Your Eligibility.

3. You’ll then need to answer a few questions about yourself and your taxes. For instance, the form will ask if you claimed the child tax credit on a previous tax return.

4. You may need to provide additional information, depending on how you answered the questions. Here’s where you fill in your filing status, adjusted gross income and the number of children you claimed on your tax return (along with their ages).

5. After you hit Next, the tool will let you know whether you qualify based on the answers you provided. It’ll tell you the amount each kid under 6 qualifies you for, and how much each kid 6 and older qualifies you for. It’ll also show you the income phaseout details.

6. From here, tap or click Manage your advance child tax credit payments, which will take you to the child tax credit portal that lets you unenroll from the monthly payments if you prefer to get one large check instead of several smaller ones, or submit your information if you’re a nonfiler.

$300 cash with calculator

Babies born this year are still eligible for advanced child tax credit payments. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

What information does the Eligibility Assistant not provide?

  • The personalized total you’ll get from the child tax credit payment. It leaves it up to you to do the math.
  • How much the payments will be reduced if your income exceeds the limit.
  • All of the payment dates for the child tax credit.
  • Only one parent can claim the money for any given child in a shared custody situation.

What if I have a baby after checks start on July 15?

If you have a baby after the July 15 payment goes out, you’ll need to update your information in the IRS Update Portal when that feature is made available in late summer. Once the agency has your updated details on file, you’ll be eligible to receive future payments. For instance, if your baby is born Aug. 20, you could start getting the advance payments in September. You’ll have to wait until 2022 to get the July and August payments retroactively. 

If your baby is born in December, you can claim the money you didn’t get from July through December when you file your taxes next year. If you have a newborn in January 2022, you won’t be eligible for the larger sum of money that was approved in the American Rescue Plan, but you could be eligible for the original amount — unless the enhanced child tax credit is extended.

You can find an answer to some of those questions in our child tax credit FAQ

Now playing:
Watch this:

Child tax credit: Everything we know