Everything about the new child tax credit is different from the old one. The new CTC is worth more, completely refundable, and disbursed partially via monthly payments. Like the pandemic stimulus checks, it also has new eligibility criteria that can be confusing. Luckily, the IRS has a new tool that will help parents figure out if they’re eligible.
If you already received a letter from the IRS letting you know you qualify, then you’re all set. If you haven’t, the Advance Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant is an online questionnaire that parents (and others with dependents under 18) can use to see if they qualify for the new CTC advance payments, the monthly disbursements that are meant to help families throughout the year instead of all at once at tax time.
The first page asks if you claimed the CTC on your 2019 or 2020 tax return and whether you had a U.S. address in the 50 states, D.C, an American territory, or at a U.S. military facility. If you didn’t claim the CTC on your 2019 or 2020 return or didn’t spend more than half of 2019 or 2020 on U.S. soil then you won’t be eligible for advance CTC payments.
If you’re unsure if you claimed the CTC in the past two years, you can say that and go to a page that asks for your tax filing status and your (or you and your spouse’s) adjusted gross income from either return. Single filers and heads of household who made less than $240,000 and joint filers with a combined adjusted gross income of $440,000 are eligible for the full child tax credit, with others receiving $50 less for every extra $1,000 in income.
All in all, 92 percent of American families with children are expected to qualify under the new child tax credit rules.
If you do qualify, the final page of the eligibility assistant includes a link to manage your advance child tax credit payments—to check on your status and enroll or unenroll in the monthly payments and provide or update bank account information for payments beginning in August, the second round of advance monthly payments. Parents who choose to eschew one or more of the advance payments will receive those funds when they file their 2021 taxes next year.
And you didn’t file taxes for the past two years—because you didn’t have to, of course—there is also a link to the non-filer tool that essentially allows you to file a brief, simplified tax return that will allow you to receive the child tax credit, including the advance payments that begin to go out next month.
Click here to access the Advance Child Tax Credit Eligibility tool on irs.gov.