Child tax credits: What to know as the 1st payments go out this week

Nation/world

The IRS is set to begin distributing the advanced child tax credit this week, providing up to $300 a month per child for millions of American families.

While the first installment of six monthly payments is set to be disbursed on July 15, some parents in Kansas and Missouri have already received theirs, KTLA sister station WDAF in Kansas City reported Monday.

More than 30 million households will begin getting the tax credit this month, which the Associated Press reports will cover almost 88% of children in the U.S. Since the payments are based on the latest tax returns, most parents won’t need to take further steps in order to get the benefit.

The expansion of the payments are part of $1.9. trillion American Rescue Plan signed into law by President Joe Biden earlier this year

Here’s what to know ahead of the first batch of payments.

How much are the payments?

Qualifying families will receive up to $300 each month for every child under the age of 6, and $250 per month for each child between the ages of 6 and 17, according to the IRS.

For the final six months of 2021, the maximum works out to be $1,800 for each child under 6 years old, and $1,500 per child for those between the ages of 6 and 17. Previously, families received an annual maximum of $2,000 for each child, and only those with income tax obligations qualified.

The new change also extends the benefit to include 17-year-olds.

The last half of the tax credit can be claimed next year when taxpayers file their 2021 return, the federal tax agency said.

Who is eligible?

Parents who will receive the payments must reside in the U.S. for more than half of the year, have at least one child who is under 18 years old at the end of the year, have a valid Social Security number, and meet some income thresholds.

Taxpayers will get the full amount if they meet the following modified adjusted gross incomes:

  • $75,000 or less for singles
  • $112,500 or less for heads of households
  • $150,000 or less for married couples filing jointly, as well as qualified widows or widowers

Those with higher incomes still qualify for the child tax credits but will receive reduced amounts depending on their earnings reported from their 2020 federal income tax income return or — if that hasn’t been filed yet — their 2019 return.

For those earning more than the above thresholds, the payments start to be reduced to $2,000 per child until their modified adjusted gross income exceeds $400,000 for married couples filing a joint return and $200,000 for all other filing statuses.

Still unsure if you qualify? The IRS has an online tool for that.

Anyone who doesn’t normally file taxes but qualifies for the credit can still obtain it by signing up for the payments using the tax agency’s non-filers tool. That’s the same process non-filers used to receive the stimulus checks from the three federal COVID-19 relief packages.

When will the payments go out?

In addition to the July 15 installment, the IRS is scheduled to deliver the rest of the monthly checks for this year on Aug. 13, Sept. 15, Oct. 15, Nov. 15 and Dec. 15. Parents will receive the payment either by mail or through direct deposit in their bank account, depending on what information is on file with the IRS.

Anyone who wants to receive their check via direct deposit but hasn’t already provided the IRS with their account details can do so on the agency’s website.

Can the tax credit be paid out in a lump sum instead?

Yes, but the deadline to register for that option has already passed. Going forward, however, eligible households can unenroll from the monthly installments three days before the first Thursday of the next month by 11:59 p.m. ET, according to the IRS.

That means taxpayers can still opt out of some of the payments if they do so by the following dates:

August: Aug. 2
September: Aug. 30
October: Oct.
November: Nov. 1
December: Nov. 29

On top of choosing that option to get the rest of the payments at the end of the year, families may also choose to unenroll if they “expect the amount of tax you owe to be greater than your expected refund when you file your 2021 tax return,” according to the IRS. The federal agency noted that — due to the payments going out in advance — “every dollar you receive will reduce the amount of Child Tax Credit you will claim on your 2021 tax return.”

Are the tax credits taxable?

No. The payments are not treated as income and therefore won’t be reported as such on next year’s return, tax officials say.

Where to find more information

The IRS has a comprehensive guide on its website with resources to help households understand the new child tax credits, including all related materials released by the agency. Full details can be found here. And the IRS’s child tax credit update portal is here.

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