Child Tax Credit: How to Sign up, Make Sure you Receive Direct Monthly Payments in July

Most families who are eligible for the expanded Child Tax Credit will automatically receive direct payments beginning in July, but some will need to use a tool on the Internal Revenue Service's website to ensure they receive the money.

The American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion relief package passed in March, increased the Child Tax Credit by $1,000 and $1,600, making the credit $3,600 for children under 6 and $3,000 for children up to 17.

The new law also changed how people receive the credit, going from a lump sum when they file their taxes to monthly payments that will run from July through December.

However, not everyone is eligible for the increased credit. Individuals must have an adjusted gross income of $75,000 and joint filers must make less than $150,000. Heads of households are eligible for the full payment as long as they earn below $112,500.

child tax credit direct payments
Child Tax Credit advance payments are set to start going out on July 15 and some people may need to register using an IRS tool to receive money. A man and woman wear protective masks while pushing children in a stroller as the city continues Phase 4 of re-opening following restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus on July 27 in New York City. Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Those who regularly file their taxes shouldn't have to do anything to receive the payments, but the IRS created a tool for non-filers to ensure taxpayers who may not be required to file a tax return still receive the proper amount in the credit. The Non-Filer Signup Tool, available on the IRS' website, will ask a person to input their name, address and Social Security numbers. It also gives taxpayers an opportunity to provide direct deposit information, which can speed up the payment process, and information on their qualifying children.

Anyone who used the tool last year to ensure they received their economic impact payments, commonly referred to as stimulus checks, should not have to re-register.

The first payment is set to go out on July 15 and then on the 15th of every month after through December unless the 15th falls on a weekend or holiday. Each of the six payments will be worth 1/12 what the IRS believes a taxpayer is owed and the other half of the credit will be paid after a person files their 2021 tax return.

Increased credits phase out for individuals and joint filers making above the income threshold. Individuals making more than $95,000 and joint filers earning more than $170,000 won't be eligible for the increased credit but can still claim the regular child tax credit.

Those who are required to file a tax return should do so immediately if they haven't because payments won't begin until the month after a taxpayer's 2020 return is processed.

Some taxpayers may prefer to claim their credit as a lump sum when they file their 2021 tax return next year. This could also be beneficial for those who would qualify based on their 2020 income but would be ineligible because of an increase in income in 2021. In that case, a taxpayer should opt out using the Child Tax Credit Update Portal, another IRS tool, which has not been put online yet.

Those whose incomes were too high in 2021 and therefore were overpaid in the advance payments will have to repay any overpayment when they file their tax return next year.