Child Tax Credit (CTC) Stimulus Schedule and 2021 Eligibility – $250 to $300 Monthly Payment Status, Issues and Updates

The IRS has started making monthly payments for the expanded Advance Child Tax Credit (CTC). Nearly 40 million households covering 88% of eligible dependents will automatically begin receiving monthly payments without any further action required by their parents or those claiming them as dependents.

The key is ensure you have e-filed your 2020 tax return or updated the non-filers tool so that the IRS has your latest income and dependent information to pay out this credit correctly.

See the relevant sections and comments below for more details and FAQs around this payment. This article is regularly updated and you can stay connected via the free subscription options below.

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2021 CTC IRS Payment Dates and Status

Ongoing payments will be made on or about the 15th of every month via direct deposit, mailed checks or debit card. Direct deposit payments are the most efficient way to get this payment. You can see the table below for payment dates and amounts (per dependent) in 2021.

The IRS sent the first [July] batch of advance monthly payments worth roughly $15 billion to about 35 million families across the country. About 86% were sent by direct deposit.

Monthly Payment DatePayment to ages 5 and youngerPayment for ages 6 to 17
July 15th, 2021 (Paid)$300$250
August 13th, 2021$300$250
September 15th, 2021$300$250
October 15th, 2021$300$250
November 15th, 2021$300$250
December 15th, 2021
(last payment for 2021)
After April 15th 2022: Second half of payment
paid via Tax return filing
Advance Monthly CTC Payment Structure and 2021 Schedule

CTC Qualification and Eligibility Rules

In response to providing support to families during the COVID pandemic, President Biden and the Democrats passed legislation via the American Rescue Plan (ARPA) Stimulus package to expand the current Child Tax Credit (CTC) to $3,000 annually per child (or $250 monthly) between the ages of 6 and 17, while increasing it to $3,600 for children under the age of 6 (infants), equivalent to $300 monthly.

The IRS will make half these payments in advance in 2021 on a monthly basis versus eligible recipients having to claim the credit via their 2021 tax return in 2022. Nearly 70 million children and their families would be eligible for this credit/stimulus in 2021. See more in this YouTube video cover the CTC payment and IRS FAQs.

The Biden expansion raised the maximum benefit by 80% per child for most families and extends it to millions of families whose earnings are too low to fully qualify under existing law. Currently, a quarter of children get a partial benefit, and the poorest 10% get nothing. Key updates and expanded eligibility include:

  • Expands eligibility to 17-year-old children (vs 16 or under per current CTC rules). This means children under the age of 18 as of the end of 2021 (last day of the tax year) would be eligible for this advance refundable credit.
  • Increase the credit to $3,000 per child older than 6 and $3,600 per child under the age of 6.
  • Remove the $2,500 earned income minimum requirement.
  • The expanded CTC stimulus is a fully refundable tax credit – so you don’t have to have taxable income to get it (i.e. not a tax deduction)
  • Half of the credit can be paid in advance between July 2021 to December 2021. Tax payers can choose to get these monthly or opt-out if they want and claim in 2022.

Note that the expanded CTC payment would be in addition to the $1,400 dependent stimulus check (economic impact payment) that is also in the latest stimulus bill. So in total some families could be getting close to $5,000 per child in 2021 with these two payments! See more in this video on how some families could get up to $10K with these credits.

A moderate expansion was also made to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for 2021, which is available to adults with no dependents. A $500 other dependent payment is also available to adult dependents who don’t qualify for the CTC.

CTC Income Qualification Thresholds

Shown below are the income thresholds below which the full CTC credit is paid. The amount of the credit paid is reduced by $50 for each $1,000 (or 5% of credit) for Taxpayer’s Income (MAGI) exceeds the maximum credit threshold amount. The phase-out is why many eligible recipients are seeing partial CTC payments, even if their incomes are above the full payout thresholds.

2019 or 2020 Tax Filing StatusIncome Below Which Full CTC Is Paid (5% Phase-out applies after this)
Single or Married filing separate$75,000
Head of household$112,500
Married filing jointly$150,000
2021 CTC Stimulus Income Qualification Thresholds

For example, a family with three dependent kids ages 16, 12 and 5 earning less than $120,000 would get up to $800 per month from the IRS from July through December 2021, for a total of $4,800. 

Note: The current CTC, prior to the ARPA expansion, was $2,000 per eligible dependent child under the age of 17. The credit began to phase out for those whose incomes (AGI) are above $200,000 (singles)/$400,000 (joint return). Families that aren’t eligible for the expanded CTC due to income levels or other reasons would still be able to claim the regular/existing CTC credit of $2,000 per child, less the amount of any monthly payments they got in 2021.

2020 or 2019 Tax Year Data Used to Figure Eligibility

The IRS will use the most recent of your 2019 or 2020 tax data (efile for free here) to ensure the latest dependent and payment information can be used. However any dependent 18 or younger at the end of 2021 is eligible for the expanded CTC, which is considered an advanced refundable credit against your 2021 taxes.

The CTC can also be claimed in your 2021 return (filed in 2022) if you prefer to opt-out or unenroll from the monthly payments in 2021.

Non-Filers Tool and Getting the Advance Child Tax Credit Payments

Individuals who filed a Federal income tax return for taxable year 2019, including by entering information into the “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here” tool last year, do not need to file a tax return to receive the advance child tax credit payment for the 2020 CTC qualifying children shown on that return. However if they need to update income, payment details or dependents – they should file a simple IRS tax return (for free).

Additionally, later this year, the IRS has announced that individuals and families who are not required to file a 2020 tax return will be able be able to use the Child Tax Credit Non-filer Sign-up tool on the IRS site to submit changes in income, update payment details, adjust filing status or number of qualifying children.

Once you submit your information on this tool the IRS will still need to determine your eligibility for the advance payments and to ensure the dependents you are claiming have not being claimed by others who filed a valid 2020 tax return.

How Will Payments be Made?

Ongoing CTC payments will be made on or about the 15th of every month, per the above schedule. Payments will be made via direct deposit, paper check, or debit cards. Direct deposit payments are the most efficient way to get this payment. Your latest tax return payment details will likely be used for making these payments.

CTC Payment Confirmation (Direct Depoist)
CTC Payment Confirmation (Direct Deposit)

Most eligible recipients for these advance monthly payments will receive an IRS letter to their home address to confirm payment detail. Check the IRS CTC portal if you didn’t get a letter – your address on file maybe incorrect. No action is needed to enroll other than a 2020 tax filing (you can file a simple IRS tax return here for free).

Also remember that only half the total CTC credit amount will be paid in advance monthly payments in 2021. You will need to claim the other half when you file your 2021 income tax return in 2022.

Payment Issues with the Monthly Child Tax Credit – Pending Eligibility Status

As with any federally funded benefits program that is being instituted in a relatively rapid fashion by a large government agency (the IRS) I expect that there will be ongoing payment issues around eligibility and initial payments. This was the case with stimulus payments/checks and unemployment benefits, so expect to face some bumps in the road.

The IRS has provided the CTC portal (see below for more) to check if you’re enrolled to receive advance payments (in addition to providing/updating your bank account details) and will provide a eligibility status. Because there are several eligibility criteria, non-filer data to process, fraud issues and potential multiple claims for the same dependent you may see a PENDING ELIGIBILITY status while the IRS does its due diligence. You should keep checking the CTC portal (updated daily) to confirm the status of your payment.

IRS update on pending eligibility: The IRS has said that people may see the “pending eligibility” status because the IRS is still processing the tax filers 2020 tax return! I imagine several taxpayers are in this boat given lengthy IRS processing delays this tax season, and will need the IRS to finish processing their return so that their eligibility for the CTC payment is confirmed.

If the IRS is not able to confirm your CTC eligibility in 2021 (and no payments are made unless it is confirmed), you may be eligible to claim the full CTC when you file your 2021 tax return in 2022.

Missing CTC Payment Tracking – When You Can Request a Payment Trace

If you were deemed eligible for the CTC and payment was confirmed via the IRS portal, but you didn’t get the payment you can request a payment trace to track your payment. The IRS has provided the following timelines to factor in before you mail or fax a completed Form 3911 (Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund) to start a payment trace.

  • 5 days since the direct deposit date and your bank says it hasn’t received the payment
  • 4 weeks since the payment was mailed by check to a standard address (per your tax return, CTC portal or non-filer data)
  • 6 weeks since the payment was mailed, and you have a forwarding address on file with the local post office
  • 9 weeks since the payment was mailed, and you have a foreign address

Submitting before these deadlines (based on payment method) will likely mean you won’t get a response from the IRS. On the flip side don’t wait too long past the deadlines as the IRS is quite backlogged and traces could take some time.

I will post updates and resolutions (where available) to common payment issues in this section on a regular basis. You can subscribe via the options below to get notified of these.

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Retroactive Child Tax Credit (CTC) Payments

If you didn’t get a payment you were expecting or it was lower than expected, you will probably have to claim this in your 2021 tax filing (filed in 2022). Check the official letter (6417) and IRS CTC portal to confirm payment details

The IRS has announced that eligible claimants will be able to get and provide updated information later this year by using the Child Tax Credit Update Portal (CTC UP). This will allow checking of enrollment status and the ability to provide or update your bank account information.

Can you unenroll from or opt-out of the monthly child tax credit payment?

Yes. The IRS has setup a new online portal with instructions on how to unenroll from this advanced payment program and instead receive the expanded CTC credit when you file your 2021 return next year. You only need to opt out or unenroll once for all future payments.

The key is to ensure you unenroll form receiving this payment three days before the monthly enrollment deadline shown below. See step-by-step instructions for opting out or unenrolling from the monthly CTC payment.

Further, if you filed a joint return, both spouses will need to opt out on the CTC portal, or the unenrolled spouse will get 50% of the payment.

Payment Month2021 Unenrollment Deadline

You can get more details on the CTC portal on the IRS site ; which will provide more details on how to opt out of the periodic payments and take the full child credit on your tax return next year.

If you unenroll from the program at any time, you cannot re-enroll at this stage according to the IRS. Unenrollment is a one-time action. However the IRS may reopen this program for re-enrollment from late September 2021.

Can my CTC payment be withheld for Child Support, Garnishment or Federal Offsets?

While CTC payments are not subject to federal offsets or past due child support, they will be subject to garnishment according to the IRS. This includes garnishment state, local and private creditors. For those filing joint returns, you can use Form 8379 to ensure your payments are not offset due to your spouses previous debts (see more in this article).

What if my child turns 18 in 2021? Will they get the credit?

No. They have to be under 18 at the end of 2021. Since this is refundable 2021 tax credit, paid in advance, it would only cover dependents under the age of 18 on the last day of the tax year (or first day of 2022).  The IRS has confirmed this in recent guidance.

For those children that go from 6 to 7 in 2021, they will only get the smaller monthly payment because the credit criteria is based on the age as of the end of 2021.

Do I have to pay back this credit if I have no income in 2020?

No. This is a full refundable credit; which means that taxpayers with no income or taxes due and who meet all the other eligibility rules, can get the maximum credit.

Will monthly payments be made in 2022?

At this stage the expanded CTC and advance monthly payments are only for the current year – 2021. 2022 payments will need to be claimed via your 2021 tax filing. Democrats do want to make it permanent given the wide spread safety net to lower and middle class families, but at a cost of $100 billion per year it will be hard to get approval in Congress for ongoing funding, especially when the Pandemic has receded.

How do I report these payments in my 2022 tax return?

These will be accounted for by the IRS or your tax software when filing your return next year. However you should be aware that if you receive a refund when filing next year (2021 return), any remaining Child Tax Credit amounts included in your refund may be subject to offset for tax debts or other federal or state debts you owe.

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50 thoughts on “Child Tax Credit (CTC) Stimulus Schedule and 2021 Eligibility – $250 to $300 Monthly Payment Status, Issues and Updates”

  1. I am a widow on SSD ( non filer tool I’ve utilized) I have 2 eligible children for Child Tax Credit
    ( per a letter I received in late June from President Biden) stating according to IRS records I have 2 children that I’ll be receiving $500 a month beginning in July.
    I received all prior stimulus and by direct Deposit but irs portal was saying under my login for days in a row very conflicting info thru me checking info on Manage my payment tool my status was unavailable, then Error check back later, to me having to verify identity with zoom video with Gov. Agent by license and social security card and a photo face scan during video call . Well July 15th has now passed (today is July 25th I no deposit nor a mailed check. I been resourcing advocating for self no luck reaching one through IRS phone line to discuss my issue and find what happening for recently the irs portal Now has me in system per logging in but it’s now claiming me as a
    NO. Eligibility NOT GETTING CHILD TAX CREDIT payments.
    I’ve resourced my State Rep. Chrissy Houluhan for being it’s a Federal issue I advise only one higher government constituent can assist me ( they told me nope they can not contact IRS for the issue) I reached out to My Governor Wolf his office directed me to call State Congressman Bob Casey and ( provided contact phone # I was told by office person at Casey’s office upon hearing my issue and distress that they personally were taking my what sounds like been a ( “The IRS online website had a Glitch In Systen that occurred for me and obviously it needs to be to be corrected by IRS personally. So they were forwarding my situation to one their office IRS ADVISORS AND TO WAIT- For a callback from their office. . Well
    (I Not received a call back yet – it’s 5 days latter now) portal still state a No
    I according to eligibility look up I still qualify this so upsetting
    I NEEED ASSISTANCE I’m in hardship and was grateful to Government to issue out a expanded Child Tax / Advance Tax credit that I non filer can receive during pandemic times we are in .
    But Now I not understand what happened here and No one will assist me to reach a live person to review & discuss with IRS
    Shawn (Pennsylvania)

  2. I filled out the non-filers tool and I did not know I was supposed to check the box ctc for the advance child tax credit and my return has already been processed so I don’t know if that’s why I didn’t receive a payment on July 15th

  3. Hi
    I have a 6 yr old and a 3 year old and have not receive anything I am eligible please direct me on what I should do.

    • Did you meet all the eligibility criteria (see article for details)? Age is not the only thing. If so, Check the CTC portal. If not you can use the CTC portal to update details (which the IRS will have to verify) and you will get caught up with payments in later months.

  4. Grandkids were placed with me since March 2021 by DCF. I’ll have kids for 8 months before next hearing. Would I be able to recieve this credit. Mom has not worked 2021 but she filed 2020

    • You will need to do one of the following to get the payment/credit (vs their Mom who claimed them in her tax return)

      1. Agree with your qualifying child’s other parent to allow you to claim that child for the Child Tax Credit for 2021. You must receive from your child’s other parent a signed Form 8332, Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption (search IRS site or via link in article able for form) for Child by Custodial Parent, and attach it to your 2021 tax return on which you claim the Child Tax Credit. You can also ask their Mom to use the Child Tax Credit Update Portal (CTC UP) to unenroll from receiving advance Child Tax Credit payments, or to remove that child from your Child Tax Credit information provided to the IRS.

  5. I have two children that reside with me and am on Disability, but their father has been getting all the checks for them, thus far. He did not file his taxes this year and I just recently used the non-filers tool in hopes that I could get the monthly credit for them instead. Am I correct in thinking that I will get that now instead of him? If I did it on June 30, will I receive the payments on time in July?

    • You may be able to get it if the IRS does not use his 2019 return data. But you have done the right thing using the non-filers tool and you will now have to wait till after July 15 to see if you get the payment.

  6. What about a child who turns 17 in October 2021? he will be 17 year and 3 months old as of 12/31/2021. what amount he will be accounted for? 3000$ ?

    • Its the age as of the end of the year (Dec 31st). The criteria per the IRS is “For tax year 2021, a qualifying child is an individual who does not turn 18 before January 1, 2022, and who satisfies the following condition.”

      So you should be good.

  7. Hello Andy
    Good Day! Me and my child are outside of the USA we are here in Philippines and my child is a US citizen and i have a full custody of my son. My ex husband is retired US Navy and we are separated but he file my son as his dependent. How can we get the CTC for my son? And also we didn’t get the first and second stimulus for my son. Can you kindly help me where to inquire about this.
    Regards and Thank You

    • One of the criteria for the credit is, “you — or your spouse, if married filing a joint return — must have your main home in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia for more than half the year.”

      If you are outside the US for longer you won’t be eligible to claim the expanded CTC credit. And based on the information your ex will likely get the payment since he meets the domestic stay criteria and claimed your son in his latest tax return.

  8. I received custody of my two grandchildren in March of 2021. My son claimed them on his 2020 tax return but I now have full custody, court ordered. How can I get the new stimulus money coming in July? If he gets it, it will not go towards the children.

    • Did you file them as your dependents in your return? You will need to contact the IRS for this to be updated, otherwise your son will get the payments.

      • Somebody’s praying my son on the Texas and I haven’t received any of his stimulus how can I get that overturned start receiving his stimulus

    • Per the IRS Revenue procedure – “Taxpayers claiming the child tax credit for the 2021 taxable year will receive up to $3,000 for each 2021 CTC qualifying child who is between the ages of 6 and 17 as of the end of the 2021 taxable year, and $3,600 for each 2021 CTC qualifying child, who is under the age of 6 as of the end of the 2021 taxable year”

      Its the age as of the end of 2021 per the procedure, so you will likely only get $250 for all the payments. You could try and claim the extra $50 for July and August via your 2021 tax return you file next year.

      If the IRS does end up paying you $300 for all the payments, just be aware the IRS could claw that money back in your 2021 tax return filing next year.

  9. My ex and I share claiming our son as dependent (I get even years and he gets odd). Since this credit is based on 2021, and I don’t claim our son that year, would I still get monthly payments in 2020 (and possibly pay back anything over 2K) or would my ex get it in 2021 (not monthly advance payments because our son isn’t on ex’s 2020) or would we *both* get the credit? Also, can I get my son’s stimulus payment for now even if they went by my 2019 and didn’t give it to me because my 2020 wasn’t in yet? I can’t claim this via recovery rebate in 2021 because he won’t be my dependent that year. Can I fix that at the IRS website or, again, does my ex just get it because it was 2019.

  10. I am wondering about the $1400 stimulus for dependent children. I received $1400 for myself, however I did not get anything (yet) for my 2 dependent children. Are the $1400 stimulus payments for children staggered in over time, and when should we expect to see those payments ($2800)? Thank you!

  11. What if I am on social security and me and my husband are separated but i have full custody? My husband has been getting all the checks for my child cause I have no where to say I full custody since I font file taxes? Any advice for those monthly payments?

    • Its based on your 2020 (or 2019) tax return. So if your ex-husband filed and claimed your kids on his return then he would get the CTC and stimulus checks. You can file forms with the IRS to argue this but could take some time to resolve.

  12. I’ve been looking for that answer as well. G-Daughter turns 18 in April. Still in high School. Can anyone answer our question?

    • Based on the legislative text and as this is an advance credit on your 2021 taxes, it would be the age of your child at the end of 2021 tax year (December 31st, 2021). Like other credits. So if your daughter is older than 18 then she may not qualify for the expanded payment. However will need to wait for final IRS guidelines to confirm this and they make an exception.

      • Confirmed per comment above, it is the age as of the end of 2021. So if 18 by then she would not get the CTC payment.

  13. I have already filed 2020 taxes and received the original $2000 CTC for my two children, however I’m pregnant and due in July when the new CTC money disbursements are supposed to hit. Can I expect the $3600 and the $1400 for the new baby when I file in 2022? and does this mean that I will only recieve half for my other two children if I recieve mo they payments for them this year?

    • Yes for 2022, you should be able to claim your new child this year and the $1400 dependent stimulus. For your other kids you will get 50% of the CTC this year and $1400 per kid, so next year you will get the remaining CTC + higher EITC.

    • Based on the legislative text and as this is an advance credit on your 2021 taxes, it would be the age of your child at the end of 2021 tax year (December 31st, 2021). Like other credits. So if your daughter is older than 18 then she may not qualify for the expanded payment. However will need to wait for final IRS guidelines to confirm this and they make an exception.

  14. Hello, i have not been getting the tax relief checks for my children , just my husband and I . What do i need to do before the next round comes out ? Can you tell me what papers are needed to be filled out ,or who do i call? I did get the first round for them , but not after that. PLEASE HELP……

    • Did you file a tax return for this year or have a change in dependent status? You can claim the missing dependent payments from last year via a recovery rebate credit. For the new CTC, the IRS will use your 2019 or 2020 tax data to send the monthly advance payments.

      • Hello Andy, I have filled the tax for 2020 for me and my son. He is under 18. I just don’t know if there is anything else to do in order to receive this child tax credit. I just checked my bank account I haven’t received anything as of now and todays is 7/16.

        • Did you check the CTC Portal for your eligibility status? That’s where you should go first. Also note he has to be under 18 as of Jan 1st 2022 to qualify.

  15. Just asking.? I’m a gma who has raised 6 grand babies for about 20yrs .I’ve got a grandparent Tanaf.on the youngest receive. One hundred a month. I have a grandchild whom filed her taxes last yr.claimed me as dependent and claimed her lil brother. Not aware of amount her refund,was. So I lucked out on any stimulus relief. I’m Unemployed .health issues.will this round help me in anyway. Just wondering.

  16. Would a child born in the first quarter of 2021 be eligible for a stimulous check? How would parent apply for it since she is not on 2020 tax return. How would parent apply for the child tax credit for this child?

  17. Hi Andy,
    Just curious. My tax individual at H&R Block has already filed my income tax. will this cause me to v=be ineligible for EITC and CTC? in 2021? and what amount do you have to make to qualify in regular payroll wages for EITC? What if my tax guy was unaware of this new roll out.
    You are so awesome by the way. The only form of information I have #1 had and #2 feel I can trust.

    • No. Your 2020 tax return filing should not impact your 2021 payments as they will be reconciled against your 2021 tax return in 2022. The one thing that may impact you is the amount you get, because if your income substantially increased in 2020 it could lower or disqualify you from getting paid. But Congress has yet to release final details and I suspect they may allow you use 2019 or 2021 income. If you want to use your 2021 income you will have to wait till 2022 to claim these credits as a lump sump.

  18. Hello I am in California and I am still (pua) payments from December 27,2020-now. I have a $0 balance but the ending date (4/13/21). This is very frustrated and I have submitted all required documentation as request, still no call (it has been over 5 days since calling the last time). My claim was (rushed) but still nothing, they really need more staff. Don’t they have a COMPLIANCE team/dept, I know about claims and processing (I worked for Sutter as: Data entry,Claims 1,2&3 specialist and research specialist, on to auditing/compliance dept.

    I have worked most of my life and I did not think I would be ignored like this, when there is a great need

  19. I wish they go by 2020 tax year because my child turns 18 this year. Although, he will still need full financial support as he will be a full time student in college. I just hope we get to take advantage of that credit too.


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