The Internal Revenue Service has unveiled a pair of new tools to help families manage and monitor advance monthly payments of the Child Tax Credit, made possible by the American Rescue Plan.
The new tools join the Non-Filer Sign-up Tool that helps families who aren’t normally required to file an income tax return to file a return and register for the Child Tax Credit.
The Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant allows families to determine if they qualify for the advance credit just by answering some questions.
The Child Tax Credit Update Portal can verify taxpayers are eligible for the advance CTC payments. This tool can also be used to unenroll taxpayers from the advance payments if they choose, so they can get a lump sum when they file a tax return next year.
All families need to access the password-protected Portal is internet access and a computer or smartphone.
The Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant and the Child Tax Credit Update Portal are both available now on IRS.gov.
"IRS employees continue to work hard to help people receive this important credit," IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said. "The Update Portal is a key piece among the three new tools now available on IRS.gov to help families understand, register for and monitor these payments. We will be working across the nation with partner groups to share information and help eligible people receive the advance payments."
More features are on the way
A number of updates and upgrades are scheduled for the Child Tax Credit Update Portal by the IRS. Families will soon be able to use the portal to check the status of their payments. Later this month, the IRS expects taxpayers to be able to update bank account information for advance CTC payments. Next month, an upgrade is planned that will let taxpayers change their mailing address.
In late summer and fall, taxpayers should be able to use the Portal to update their family status and changes in income. More on these improvements can be found on the tool’s FAQs on IRS.gov.
Ahead of all the upgrades, though, the initial version of the Portal and its unenrollment feature are worthy of the spotlight.
Some families might prefer to wait until the end of the year and get the full credit amount as a tax refund from their 2021 return, instead of getting the advance payments. The Portal gives these taxpayers an easy way to opt out of the monthly CTC payments.
Unenrollment might also help those families that no longer qualify for the Child Tax Credit - or think they won’t qualify when they file a 2021 tax return.
There are three main ways this could happen:
- Their income in 2021 is too high to qualify them for the credit.
- Someone else (an ex-spouse or another family member, for example) qualifies to claim their child or children as dependents in 2021.
- Their main home was outside of the United States for more than half of 2021.
ID verification required for portal access
Users who want to access the Child Tax Credit Portal first have to verify their identity. Those without an existing IRS account will have to verify their identity with a kind of photo identification that uses ID.me, a trusted third-party vendor for the IRS. This important security check will keep taxpayers’ accounts secure and shielded from identity theft.
Users who have an existing IRS username or an ID.me account can use those credentials to sign in, without creating a new account.
Taxpayers without internet access or who otherwise can’t use the online tool to unenroll should contact the IRS using the telephone number included in their IRS outreach letter.
Check eligibility first
The first stop for taxpayers and their families should be the Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant. Here, families can see if they are qualified for the Child Tax Credit and its advance payments.
This simple tool uses a series of questions to determine if the taxpayer qualifies.
It should be noted that this is merely an eligibility tool, not a site to register, so no personal information is requested or used. But it is critical in determining whether the taxpayer should go on and either file a tax return or register using the Non-Filer Sign-up Tool.
The IRS page has direct links to all three tools mentioned here, a list of frequently asked questions and other resources.