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Raising kids ain’t easy, and it’s not cheap. And after a really tough year with the coronavirus pandemic, the government wants to help ease the financial burden.

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan means most households will get $1,400 per adult and dependent — but that’s not all.

The package also includes some big changes to the Child Tax Credit for 2021 (and beyond?).

Here’s what you need to know:


The government is giving families up to $3,600 per child.

If you’re a parent, you’ve probably accepted the Child Tax Credit before. Basically, it’s a tax coupon for $2,000 per child.

The stimulus bill has increased that to $3,600 per child under age 6, and $3,000 per child ages 6-17.


From July to December, expect monthly payments to hit your bank account by the 15th of the month.

Families will receive half of the 2021 Child Tax Credit in monthly installments, and the other half of the credit will be applied when filing 2021 taxes.

On July 15, Aug. 13, Sept. 15, Oct. 15, Nov. 15 and Dec. 15, the government will pay parents installments of the tax credit, which looks like:

  • $300/month per child under 6
  • $250/month per child ages 6-17

If you have direct deposit with the IRS, they’ll put the money in the account they have on file; otherwise, they’ll mail a check to the address they have on file.



Congress may extend these payments through 2025 — or later.

The Capital building in Washington D.C. with orange and yellow trees in the Fall

Although the current plan expires at the end of 2021, Congress is considering extending the monthly payments through 2025.

In September they unveiled a plan to keep the program going another four years, with some lawmakers wanting to make the expanded Child Tax Credit permanent.


You won’t have to pay it back — but you might consider opting out of the monthly payments.

You won’t have to pay any fees or interest or additional taxes on this tax credit money. This is basically like getting a portion of your tax return in advance.

Some people — whether they’re undisciplined or just wanting to simplify their taxes — may decide to opt out of the monthly Child Tax Credit payments to get the full amount during tax time.

Unless you opt out, you’re automatically going to get half of your Child Tax Credit paid in monthly installments.

The first unenrollment deadline is June 28, but if you miss that one, you’ll receive the July check — and then you get another chance to opt-out each month.

Here are the unenrollment deadlines:

  • July payment: June 28
  • August payment: Aug. 2
  • September payment: Aug. 30
  • October payment: Oct. 4
  • November payment: Nov. 1
  • December payment: Nov. 29

Note: You can unenroll at any time to apply your remaining credit to your 2021 taxes, but there’s no mechanism for re-enrolling if you want to resume the monthly payments after opting out.


More families than ever qualify for the bigger tax credit.

Credit Karma Tax

As long as you make less than $200,000 ($400,000 for couples), you’ll be eligible for the standard $2,000 Child Tax Credit. But to get the full $3,000 – $3,600 expanded credits, you have to make less than $75,000 ($150,000 for couples).

This year’s changes benefit lower-income families who pay little to no taxes. In previous years, they’d only get up to $1,400 per child, rather than the standard $2,000 wealthier families would receive, according to the Brookings Institute.


And don’t forget the $1,400 per kid economic impact payment.

The stimulus package plus the Child Tax Credit means families could receive up to $5,000 per child.

But this is only for 2021; unless Congress makes the changes permanent, the Child Tax Credit will return to its reduced rate.


Child Tax Credit Means $300 Checks Through 2021 (And Beyond?)