Millions of U.S. households received their first advance payments of the 2021 Child Tax Credit (CTC) in July. While these payments will help many families, some taxpayers may come out better by unenrolling from the advance payment program. If the advance payments add up to more than your total credit for 2021, you may end up owing tax for the year.
In most cases, the IRS bases CTC advance payments on the taxpayer’s 2020 federal tax return, or their 2019 return if their 2020 return has not been processed. Certain life changes during 2021 could reduce your CTC amount, or even make you ineligible for the credit. Therefore, you may wish to consider opting out of advance payments if any of the following occur:
- A qualifying child who lived with you in 2020 (or 2019) will not live with you for more than half of 2021.
- Your income increases significantly in 2021.
- Your filing status changes in 2021.
- You previously met the CTC residency requirement, but will not live in a U.S. state or D.C. for more than half of 2021. In this case, unenrollment may be required.
You can also choose to unenroll from advance payments simply because you want to receive your entire 2021 CTC when you file your tax return in the spring. To unenroll for any reason, use the IRS Advance CTC Update tool (link below). A tax professional can help you determine whether receiving advance payments or opting out makes more sense for your circumstances.
Note that for married couples filing jointly, both spouses must unenroll from advance payments. If only one spouse opts out, the other will still receive monthly advance payments equal to half of the original payment amount calculated for the household.
IRS Advance CTC Portal to unenroll: https://www.irs.gov/credits-deductions/child-tax-credit-update-portal