Child Tax Credit
The Child Tax Credit: What You Need to Know
The new Child Tax Credit is worth $3,000 per year, per child ages 6-17 and $3,600 per year, per child under 6 years old. It will be paid out in regular payments, not once a year. If you have children under 18, you may be eligible even if you do not usually file taxes or have low/no earnings.
You Are Eligible If:
- You are single and your income is under $75,000. Or, if you are single and file taxes as a head of household, your income must be under $112,500.
- You have a spouse and your combined income is under $150,000.
- Your child has a Social Security Number. You can file with an ITIN, but your child must have a SSN.
- If household income is above those thresholds, you will receive slightly smaller payments, depending on income.
To Get the Expanded Child Tax Credit
- File your taxes, even if you don't file them normally. This will tell the IRS where to send your payment and how many children you have.
- If you need help filing your taxes for free, visit the United Way's website or call their hotline: 866-698-9435. Their online tax filing program will walk you step-by-step through filing your taxes.
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Child Tax Credit FAQs
Here are some answers to common questions and concerns
When will I start receiving the payments?
Households could receive checks beginning this July. You will only receive payments for half of the year, so you will have to claim the rest of your refund on next year's taxes.
How much is the Child Tax Credit worth?
The expanded Child Tax Credit increases the maximum credit a family can receive from $2,000 per child per year to $3,000 per child, increasing to $3,600 for children under six. This means that if you have two children, aged 4 and 7, your credit will be worth $6,600 for the year. The overall credit is divided into monthly payments, so you can expect $250 per month for each child between 6 and 17, and $300 per month for each child under 6.
Will getting the Child Tax Credit reduce my benefits?
No, the Child Tax Credit does not count as income for federally-funded benefits, including SNAP.
I'm used to getting my refund at tax time. Does this mean I won't receive this money at tax time?
The way the Child Tax Credit is set up this year, most households will receive periodic payments through 2021, and a lump sum at tax time. Those who qualify will still receive their Earned Income Tax Credit at tax time as well.
I don't usually file taxes. What will I need to file taxes so I can get the Child Tax Credit?
An email address, ID, proof of income and/or benefits, and your child's Social Security Number.
What does "fully refundable" mean?
The Child Tax Credit is applied against the taxes you owe to the federal government, helping to offset any tax burden you might have. If you don't owe any taxes, this money is paid out to you as a refund. Fully refundable means you can receive the full amount of the credit as a refund.
Do I have to file taxes?
Yes, to receive the credit you have to file taxes. This is particularly important for tax year 2020 - so that the IRS knows where you live, has your bank information, and knows how many dependents you have - as well as tax year 2021, so that you can claim the remainder of your 2021 credit. While the Child Tax Credit expansion is only temporary based on current legislation, lawmakers are seeking to make it a permanent part of the tax code.
If you don’t file your 2020 taxes, and you didn't file 2019 taxes, the IRS may be creating a non-filer portal that will allow you to enter needed information. However, this is still uncertain, so we encourage you to try and file your taxes as soon as you can.
Will I owe taxes on the money I receive?
It is highly unlikely. It is possible, if your income fluctuated from 2020 to 2021 (and your 2021 income moves you outside the eligible range for the expanded advanced credit) that you could receive larger monthly payments than you are eligible for. However, because these partial payments are only distributed for part of 2021, your overall advanced credit will not exceed the total you are eligible for, and you will simply receive a smaller lump sum credit when you file your 2021 taxes.
Also, if you receive payments for a child who is no longer a dependent, you may have to pay that money back, though there are some protections in place for those with incomes below $80,000 (for individuals), $100,000 (for single, head-of-household), or $120,000 (for filing jointly).
Finally, if your income fluctuated so much that your 2021 income made you ineligible for the Child Tax Credit at all, you would have to pay the money back, but these thresholds are quite high ($200,000 for an individual and $400,000 for a joint return).
If the expanded Child Tax Credit becomes a permanent part of the tax code, there could be a scenario in which an income swing from year to year could mean you would receive a larger advanced credit than you are eligible for, causing you to pay back some of the credit.
Can parents who share custody of a child both get the Child Tax Credit?
No, only one parent can claim the credit for a child. The child must also live with you for at least 6 months out of the year.
- Fact Sheet (En Español / In Spanish) (باللغة العربية / In Arabic) (বাংলা ভাষায় / In Bengali)
- Social Media (En Español / In Spanish) (In Arabic / باللغة العربية) (In Bengali / বাংলা ভাষায়)
- United Way's free tax filing website and information on other tax credits
- IRS Free File
- More information on the Stimulus Checks
- Listening to SNAP Participants to Improve Access to the Expanded Child Tax Credit
About this page
This resource was created by Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan to help ensure that all Michiganders can access the child tax credit benefits they are eligible for.