Should You Be Getting Monthly Payments for Your Kids? Check the IRS's Child Tax Credit Portal

The IRS has an online tool that will help you track and manage your monthly child tax credit payments (although it's not fully functional yet).

picture of a father and daughter using a laptop computer
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're wondering if the IRS should be sending you monthly child tax credit payments, there's an easy way to find out. Use the Child Tax Credit Update Portal on the IRS's website. Right now, this online tool lets you:

In the future, you'll also be able to revise the number of dependents, marital status and income that are used to calculate your monthly payments. You'll also be allowed to re-enroll for monthly payments if you previously opted out. These upgrades will take place later this summer.

How Much Will You Get Each Month?

The 2021 child tax credit is worth $3,600 for each child 5 years old or younger and $3,000 for each kid 6 to 17 years of age. If you receive six payments from July to December this year, each monthly payment will equal 1/12 of your total credit amount. That comes a maximum monthly payment of $300 for each child under age 6 and $250 for each child ages 6 through 17. (Monthly payments could be higher if you receive less than six payments.)

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However, the credit amount – and therefore your monthly payment amount – is gradually reduced for wealthier families. So, if your income is high enough, you won't receive the maximum credit or monthly payment. In fact, certain families won't get a credit or monthly payments at all because they make too much money.

There will be six monthly payments in 2021. Eligible parents will get them on July 15, August 13, September 15, October 15, November 15, and December 15. The combined total of your monthly payments should equal 50% of your total child tax credit for the 2021 tax year. You'll claim the rest of the credit when you file your 2021 tax return next year. To get a customized estimate of your monthly payments (assuming you receive six payments), use our 2021 Child Tax Credit Calculator.

Direct Deposit of Monthly Child Tax Credit Payments

Most monthly child tax credit payments will be directly deposited into your bank account. That's what the IRS will do if it has your bank account information from:

  • Your 2019 or 2020 tax return;
  • The IRS's online tool used last year by people who aren't required to file a tax return to get a first-round stimulus check;
  • A federal agency that provides you benefits, such as the Social Security Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, or the Railroad Retirement Board; or
  • The Child Tax Credit Update Portal.

If the IRS doesn't have your bank account information, you'll get a paper check or debit card in the mail.

Accessing the Child Tax Credit Update Portal

To help prevent fraud and identity theft, you have to verify your identity before accessing the Child Tax Credit Update Portal. If you have an existing IRS account, use that account's username and password to sign-in to the portal. You'll have to enter a security code as part of the multi-factor authentication process.

If you have an existing account with from a state government or federal agency, you can use the email and password associated with that account to access the portal. You'll also have to complete the multi-factor authentication process.

If you don't already have an existing IRS or account, you'll have to create a new account to use the portal. Note that only authenticates people who are at least 18 years old. If you're 17 or younger, call the telephone number on the letter the IRS sent you about child tax credit payments if you want to opt-out of monthly payments.

For complete coverage of this year's child tax credit and monthly payments, see Child Tax Credit 2021: How Much Will I Get? When Will Monthly Payments Arrive? And Other FAQs.

Rocky Mengle

Rocky Mengle was a Senior Tax Editor for Kiplinger from October 2018 to January 2023 with more than 20 years of experience covering federal and state tax developments. Before coming to Kiplinger, Rocky worked for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting, and Kleinrock Publishing, where he provided breaking news and guidance for CPAs, tax attorneys, and other tax professionals. He has also been quoted as an expert by USA Today, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Reuters, Accounting Today, and other media outlets. Rocky holds a law degree from the University of Connecticut and a B.A. in History from Salisbury University.