June 14, 2021

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Child tax credit portals coming soon: Opt out of monthly checks and update personal details – CNET

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Parents might choose to opt out of monthly payments online before the first child tax credit installment on July 15. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

An estimated 39 million American families are expected to benefit financially from the enhanced child tax credit this year, and those who are eligible can see their first partial payment July 15. The credit allows parents to receive $3,000 total for each child aged 6 to 17 (or $3,600 for children under 6), with the option of receiving half of the credits through advance monthly payments this year. If you haven’t done so already, estimate your family’s total by using CNET’s child tax credit calculator

Before next month, two online portals to assist with the child tax credit rollout will be made available by the IRS. One of the portals will allow families to decline the monthly installments if they prefer to get one lump sum in 2022. Another portal will be for those who don’t normally file tax returns. Parents will be able to inform the tax agency of any change in circumstances, such as the birth of a child or getting married.

We will continue to update this story as the IRS releases more information, but we can tell you what we know so far. We can also suggest some ways to use your child tax credit checks, give you details on how you might receive your payment and tell you how to claim thousands of dollars back for child care expenses

What will the online child tax credit portals be for?

Right now, we know that the upcoming IRS portals will be helpful for parents to make necessary changes:

  • The main portal can be used to let families opt out of receiving the monthly child tax credit payments — this is for those who would rather get one large payment next year instead of receiving half of the credit through partial payments this year. 
  • The other portal will be for families who don’t typically file tax returns. This will help make sure their information is up to date, including if they’ve gained new dependents or if they have a change in filing status or income. (This is important because income thresholds determine how much money parents can receive and if they qualify.)

When can families access the two IRS portals?

The IRS has set an open deadline of July 1, though we don’t have an exact date yet — the portals could come online sooner than that. The IRS is simultaneously processing tens of millions of tax returns, which may affect the timeline while it organizes the child tax credit program.

How can parents decline monthly payments through the IRS portals?

The main portal will let you opt out of receiving the monthly child tax credit payments. What does that mean? It means that instead of receiving monthly payments of, say, $300 for your 4-year-old, you can wait until you file your 2021 taxes in 2022 to receive the $3,600 lump sum.

You may also want to opt out because you’re expecting your circumstances to change and don’t want to update your information in the portal.

How can households that don’t file taxes use the portals?

The IRS will open a second portal dedicated to people who don’t typically file their income taxes. This child tax credit portal will allow this group to give the IRS their updated information, including the number and ages of their qualifying child dependents. 

The portal is expected to let tax nonfilers submit a simplified electronic form to the IRS to secure their eligibility. This group would include people who don’t have bank accounts, as well as the homeless population.

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There is no limit on the number of children that parents can receive the credit for as long as both they and their dependents qualify.

Sarah Tew/CNET

What are other helpful things about the child tax credit portals?

Taxpayer families will be able to make changes to any life circumstances since they last filed their taxes, such as an income change and child custody status. For example, if you started making less money this year, you’ll want to update the IRS about those changes so you can get the correct child tax credit amount.

If you had or will have a new baby this year, it’s important to let the IRS know, so you can receive your payment for up to $3,600 for that child. The same applies if you adopted a child or if you gained a new child dependent since you last filed your taxes. 

Also, if you’ve gained full custody of your child, you’ll be the parent who receives the money for your kid. Note that parents who have shared custody will not each get a payment. This is important for domestic violence survivors according to comments during an IRS oversight hearing by Nina Olson, executive director of the Center for Taxpayer Rights. “That change of circumstances portal should allow them to enter their change in marital status and also where the children are.”

Now playing: Watch this: Child tax credit: Everything we know

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What about families without a permanent address?

The IRS is urging people to share information about the child tax credit to those who don’t have permanent addresses. By doing this, you’re helping make sure families receive the payments they’re eligible for. You can share information about the online portals with them so they know about the programs to help them file a tax return.

What IRS online portal details are still to be determined? 

There are many details that are still unclear about the IRS’ child tax credit portals, including:

  • The exact date the portals will be available to families.
  • How the portals will work for families updating their information.
  • How families will differentiate between the two portals.
  • The process for opting out of the monthly payments.

For more child tax credit 2021 details, here’s how much money you can expect. Also, here’s what it takes for you and your dependents to qualify for the payments.

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