Filing 2021 Taxes | How You Receive Child Tax Credit Payments Skip to main content
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Filing Taxes

Filing a tax return is how you’ll get all of your 2021 Child Tax Credit

Why File?

File taxes to get the rest of your Child Tax Credit or if you didn’t get the advance payments and are eligible, file to claim the full credit.

When you file your 2021 tax return, you will receive all of the 2021 Child Tax Credit that you are eligible for.

Use the Get Your Child Tax Credit tool to find out how to get assistance and file your taxes for free.

Any amount of monthly Child Tax Credit payments received last year will reduce the amount of remaining Child Tax Credit you are eligible for when filing your tax return this year.

If you did not receive monthly Child Tax Credit payments last year, it is not too late - when you file a tax return for 2021, you will receive the full amount of the Child Tax Credit that you are eligible to receive.

If you are not required to file tax returns, you can still get your Child Tax Credit.

Getting the Child Tax Credit if you haven’t filed tax returns

Even if you do not normally file tax returns, you are still eligible to claim any Child Tax Credit benefits you are eligible for. If you did not file a tax return for 2019 or 2020, you likely did not receive monthly Child Tax Credit payments in 2021. This was because the government did not know how many qualifying children you have and how much money to send you per child. But you are still able to receive the full amount of the 2021 Child Tax Credit. To get assistance filing for the Child Tax Credit, click here.

You can get more when you file

When filing your taxes, you will get the full amount of Child Tax Credit, even if you received less in monthly payments last year than you may have been eligible for.

You will be able claim the full amount of any remaining Child Tax Credit benefits you are eligible for against any 2021 tax liability you owe and receive any leftover amount as a refund payment.

Any amount of monthly Child Tax Credit payments received last year will reduce the amount of remaining Child Tax Credit benefit you are eligible for when tax filing.

Getting the Remainder of Your Child Tax Credit

Why you haven’t received the full amount of your Child Tax Credit

You need to file your 2021 tax return to get all of the Child Tax Credit for which you are eligible.

Filing a tax return is how you can tell the government about your family and the number of qualifying children you are claiming. The IRS used the information from your 2019 or 2020 tax return to estimate your eligibility for monthly Child Tax Credit payments in 2021 and send payments equal to half of the amount of Child Tax Credit that the IRS estimated you would be able to properly claim on your 2021 tax return.

Any remaining Child Tax Credit benefits will be paid when eligible parents and guardians file their tax returns for 2021 and claim the Child Tax Credit.

To get free assistance filing for the Child Tax Credit, go here.

If you had any life events such as an income change or the birth of a child during 2021, this may have an impact on the remaining amount of Child Tax Credit that you can properly claim.

Read more about how life events can impact your Child Tax Credit payment.

Determining your remaining credit

When filing your tax return, you will have to tell the IRS the value of the advanced monthly payments you received. The advanced payments will be deducted from the amount of remaining Child Tax Credit benefit you are eligible for when filing taxes.

In December 2021, the IRS started sending letters to families who received advance Child Tax Credit payments. The letter says “2021 Total Advance Child Tax Credit (AdvCTC) Payments” near the top and “Letter 6419” on the bottom righthand side of the page. This is what it looks like (PDF). The letters can help families determine how much Child Tax Credit payments they are still eligible to receive.

  • For people who filed jointly with their spouse on their last tax return, each spouse will receive a separate letter from the IRS. Each letter will list half of the total amount of advance payments the IRS sent from July through December 2021.
  • If you file jointly again this year, you should add the amounts of each letter and list the total amount on your joint tax return.
  • Take, for example, a family that received a total of $1,800 in advance Child Tax Credit payments for their two-year-old child. If they filed jointly as a married couple in 2020, each spouse should have gotten Letter 6419 from the IRS saying they received $900 in advance Child Tax Credit payments.
  • If that couple files jointly again this year, they should add the amounts ($900) from each of their letters and list $1,800 ($900 plus $900) in advance payments on their tax return.
  • Alternatively, if they file separate returns this year, each spouse should list $900 on their tax return.

People who received advance CTC payments can also check the amount of their payments by using the CTC Update Portal as well as their IRS Online Account. For more information about Letter 6419 or if you have questions about the payment amount listed in your letter, visit our Help page.

Getting the CTC if You Didn't Receive Advance Payments

Some families that qualify for the Child Tax Credit did not receive advanced payments for a variety of reasons, including:

  • They didn’t file taxes in 2019 or 2020
  • A new child joined their family in 2021
  • They opted out of receiving advanced payments
  • Another taxpayer claimed their children

Filing taxes will allow qualifying families to get the whole values of the credit they are eligible to receive.

New and Non-Filers Should File a Tax Return

Why non-filers should file a 2021 tax return

If you haven’t filed a tax return before or don’t file every year and are eligible for the Child Tax Credit, it’s not too late to file to receive the expanded CTC.

For those who received advance Child Tax Credit payments after using a simplified filing tool, you can file a 2021 tax return and potentially receive thousands of additional dollars in tax credits when you file. These additional credits include:

If you are eligible for the Child Tax Credit but did not get any advance payments in 2021, you can still get a lump-sum payment by claiming the Child Tax Credit benefit when you file. Finally, if the qualifying children you listed in a Non-Filer Tool in 2020 or 2021 are the same qualifying children you had in 2021, you probably only received half of your benefit. You need to file a 2021 tax return to claim the remaining 2021 Child Tax Credit.

The Child Tax Credit does not affect your other Federal benefits

Having received monthly Child Tax Credit payments in 2021, and any refund you receive as a result of claiming the Child Tax Credit, is not considered income for any family. Therefore, it will not change the amount you receive in other Federal benefits. These Federal benefits include unemployment insurance, Medicaid, SNAP (formally food stamps), SSI, SSDI, TANF, WIC, Section 8, or Public Housing.

Free resources to help you file

If you are new to tax filing, or even if you’ve filed before but would like some help this year, there are places located across the country that can support you as you file your tax return. Many of these organizations offer both in-person and virtual support.

Get Free Filing Options

Additionally, many individuals file their tax returns with an accountant or tax preparer for a fee and you can search for an authorized IRS e-file Provider to find support near you. The above are all no-cost solutions.