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Video: What's the Child Tax Credit—How Do I Qualify?

Updated for Tax Year 2021 • August 8, 2021 09:47 AM


Did you know that your greatest joy can also be one your biggest tax deductions? Learn more about what is the Child Tax Credit and how you may qualify. You can get back up to $2,000 on your return if you have a child 16 or younger.

For information on the third coronavirus relief package, please visit our “American Rescue Plan: What Does it Mean for You and a Third Stimulus Check” blog post.


Stimulus impact on the Child Tax Credit for 2021

New, Temporary Advance Child Tax Credit Payments

The Child Tax Credit has been expanded by the American Rescue Plan Act, that was enacted in March of 2021. Part of this expansion is to advance the 2021 tax credit to families by sending them direct payments during 2021 rather than having them wait until they prepare their 2021 taxes in 2022. Most families do not need to do anything to get their advance payment. Normally, the IRS will calculate the payment amount based on your 2020 tax return. Eligible families will receive advance payments, either by direct deposit or check.

The amount that you receive will be reconciled to the amount that you are eligible for when you prepare your 2021. Most families will receive about one-half of their tax credit through the advance payments. If you receive too little, you will be due an additional amount on your tax return. In the unlikely event that you receive too much, you might have to pay the excess back, depending on your income level.

Child Tax Credit Changes

The American Rescue Plan raised the maximum Child Tax Credit in 2021 to $3,600 for qualifying children under the age of 6 and to $3,000 per child for qualifying children ages 6 through 17. Before 2021, the credit was worth up to $2,000 per eligible child, and 17 year-olds were not eligible for the credit.

The Child Tax Credit changes for 2021 have lower income limits than the original Child Tax Credit. Families that do not qualify for the credit using these income limits are still eligible for the $2,000 per child credit using the original Child Tax Credit income and phase-out amounts.

In addition, the entire credit is fully refundable for 2021. This means that eligible families can get it, even if they owe no federal income tax.

For updates and more information, please visit our 2021 Child Tax Credit blog post.

If you're doing your 2020 taxes, here's what you should know about the Child Tax Credit

For tax years 2018 through 2020, the Child Tax Credit is $2,000 per qualifying child.

Video transcript:

Hi, I'm Arye from TurboTax with some helpful information about the Child Tax Credit and how you can qualify.

The Child Tax Credit allows you to reduce your tax bill by $1,000 ($2,000 beginning in 2018) per child on your tax return.
However, the credit is not refundable. So, how do you qualify?
  • First, if you have a child, they must have been under the age of 17 on the last day of the calendar year for which you are claiming the credit. For example, if your child turns 17 on January 1st of the next year, you can claim that child on prior year taxes and are eligible for the Child Tax Credit.
  • Second, the child you claim must be a US citizen, a US national or a US resident alien.
  • Third, the child is a legal relation, meaning he or she must be your naturally born child, adopted child, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister ... or be a descendant of any of them (like your grandchild, niece, or nephew).
  • And lastly, your child must have lived with you for more than half the calendar year, and you must provide more than half of their support costs.

Children born during the year or those that have passed away also qualify.

Remember, with TurboTax, we'll ask you simple questions about your life and help you fill out all the right tax forms. With TurboTax you can be confident your taxes are done right, from simple to complex tax returns, no matter what your situation.

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