If you’re a new parent, you may have been expecting an extra boost to your bank account this week, as the IRS issued the first round of advanced child tax credit payments. But if you’ve given birth in 2021 or are going to give birth before the year is over, then getting the credit — and the monthly payments — is a bit more complicated.
The 2021 child tax credit provides parents with up to $3,600 per child for kids under 6 and $3,000 for all other children under 18, with half of the money being doled out as monthly payments that started this week. Unlike in previous years, the new credit also allows families with extremely low or no income to qualify for the entire benefit.
To help parents navigate these new changes, the IRS has created two web portals: the Non-filer Sign-up Tool and the Child Tax Credit Update Portal (CTC UP). But both of these portals won’t yet allow you to update your information with changes that have happened in 2021.
So what if you’ve had a baby in the past six and a half months, or you’re expecting to give birth before the year is over? Here’s everything you need to know about how your baby qualifies for the new credit and, maybe more importantly, when you’ll actually see the money:
Yes, you will get the entire credit for your baby
All children under the age of 18 are eligible for the child tax credit as long as their parents qualify.
It doesn’t matter if they were born on January 1 at 12:01 a.m. or December 31 at 11:59 p.m., if your child was born in the U.S. in 2021 then you will receive the child tax credit, so long as your income is below $440,000 (if you’re married and filing jointly).
The only caveat to this is if you and your child’s other parent don’t live together or split up during 2021. In that case, only the person who has custody of the child for the majority of the newborn’s life will get to claim the credit. Even if you split custody completely evenly, one person will still have technically had them in their care for more time than the other.
You can update your number of dependents starting in September
While the IRS has been rolling out more features to the portal (aka the CTC UP), like updating your bank information and unenrolling from monthly payments, you won’t be able to update the number of dependents in your care until the end of September.
For parents who’ve already had a child in 2021, this unfortunately means that you won’t be receiving monthly payments for July, August or September. Parents also won’t receive any monthly payments until the child is actually born, so even if you’re due in October, you won’t be able to include them as a dependent right when the portal opens in September.
Once it’s possible to update your number of dependents or your child is born (whichever comes first), you will finally be able to claim them for the child tax credit.
How payments will work once you update your dependents
Once your number of dependents is up-to-date, the IRS will readjust how much money they send you for the remaining months of the year — but you’ll have to wait until you get your tax refund to access the monthly payments that were missed.
If you’re a new parent who qualifies for the full credit and immediately updates your information to include your newborn in September, then you’ll receive $300 each month from October through December. The payments for July through September ($900 total) will be applied when you file taxes in 2022. If instead your child is born in December, then the entire $3,600 credit will just be applied as a lump sum at tax season.
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