Tag Archives: Child Tax Credit

Advance Child Tax Credit

Here’s how a taxpayer’s custody situation may affect their advance child tax credit payments  

COVID Tax Tip 2021-147, October 5, 2021

Parents who share custody of their children should be aware of how the advance child tax credit payments are distributed. It is important to remember that these are advance payments of a tax credit that taxpayers expect to claim on their 2021 tax return. Understanding how the payments work will parents to unenroll, if they choose, and possibly avoid a possible tax bill when they file next year.

Here are some of the most common questions about shared custody and the advance child tax credit payments.

If two parents share custody, how will the IRS decide which one receives the advance child tax credit payments?

Who receives 2021 advance child tax credit payments is based on the information on the taxpayer’s 2020 tax return, or their 2019 return if their 2020 tax return has not been processed. The parent who claimed the child tax credit on their 2020 return will receive the 2021 advance child tax credit payments.

If a parent is receiving 2021 advance child tax credit payments and they shouldn’t be, what should they do?

Parents who will not be eligible to claim the child tax credit when they file their 2021 tax return should go to IRS.gov and unenroll to stop receiving monthly payments. They can do this by using the Child Tax Credit Update Portal. Receiving monthly payments now could mean they have to return those payments when they file their tax return next year. If their custody situation changes and they are entitled to the child tax credit for 2021, they can claim the full amount when they file their tax return next year.

If parents alternate years claiming their child on their tax return, will the IRS send the 2021 advance child tax credit payments to the parent who claimed the child on their 2020 tax return even though they will not claim them on their 2021 tax return?

Yes. Because the taxpayer claimed their child on their 2020 tax return, the IRS will automatically issue the advance payments to them. When they file their 2021 tax return, they may have to pay back the payments over the amount of the credit they’re entitled to claim. Some taxpayers may be excused from repaying some or all of the excess amount if they qualify for repayment protection. If a taxpayer won’t be claiming the child tax credit on their 2021 return, they should unenroll from receiving monthly payments using the Child Tax Credit Update Portal.

If one parent is receiving the advance child tax credit payments even though the other parent will be claiming the child tax credit on their 2021 tax return, will the parent claiming the qualifying child still be able to claim the full credit amount?

Yes. Taxpayers will be able to claim the full amount of the child tax credit on their 2021 tax return even if the other parent is receiving the advance child tax credit payments. The parent receiving the payments should unenroll, but their decision will not affect the other parent’s ability to claim the child tax credit.

Changes to the Child Tax Credit

With the recently enacted American Rescue Plan, there were changes made to the child tax credit that may benefit many taxpayers, most notably:

  • The amount has increased for certain taxpayers
  • The credit is fully refundable
  • The credit may be partially received in monthly payments
  • The qualifying age for children has been raised from 16 to 17

The IRS will pay half the credit in the form of advance monthly payments beginning July 15 and ending Dec. 15. Taxpayers will then claim the other half when they file their 2021 income tax return.

How much will you receive?

The credit for children ages five and younger is up to $3,600 with up to $300 received in monthly payments. The credit for children ages 6 to 17 is up to $3,000 with up to $250 received in monthly payments.

How do you qualify?

The following criteria must be met to quality:

  • A 2019 or 2020 tax return was filed and claimed the child tax credit, or your information was provided to the IRS using the non-filer tool
  • Have a main home in the U.S. for more than half the year or file a joint return with a spouse who has a main home in the U.S. for more than half the year
  • Care for a qualifying child who is under age 18 at the end of 2021, and who has a valid Social Security number
  • Have a modified adjusted gross income less than certain limits:
    • $75,000 for single filers
    • $150,000 for married filing jointly filers
    • $112,500 for head of household filers

The credit begins to phase out above those thresholds. Higher-income families (e.g., married filing jointly couples with $400,000 or less in income or other filers with $200,000 or less in income) will generally get the same credit as prior law (generally $2,000 per qualifying child) but may also choose to receive monthly payments.

You won’t need to do anything to receive payments as the IRS will use information on file to start issuing payments.

IRS’s child tax credit update portal

The IRS has a child tax credit and update portal where you can update your information to reflect any recent changes to things like filing status or number of children. You can also opt out of the advance payments and check on payment status in the portal. If you file a joint return, both you and your spouse will need to opt out, otherwise a portion of the payment will still be issued. If you prefer not to opt out online, you can also call the IRS at 1-800-908-4184.

We’re here to help

If you have any questions or need help making decisions based on your specific situation, please contact our office today at 205-663-8686 or cris@essential-solutions.biz.

Thank you for trusting us with your tax preparation and planning needs.

Individual Tax Changes under ARPA

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), signed by President Biden on March 11, 2021, is the latest major legislation that provides economic relief and stimulus, both tax and non-tax, during the Covid-19 pandemic.

As tax law is moving very quickly in 2021, we wanted to make you apprised of these changes.

Individuals

Recovery rebate credits (stimulus checks). ARPA provides a third round of nontaxable stimulus checks directly payable to individuals. The payments are structured as refundable tax credits against 2021 taxes but will paid in 2021 (not 2022).

The maximum payments are $1,400 per eligible individual ($2,800 for married joint filers) and $1,400 for each dependent (which, unlike the first two stimulus payments, includes older children and adult dependents). The payment phases out proportionally between $75,000 and $80,000 AGI for single filers, $112,500 and $120,000 for head of household filers, and $150,000 and $160,000 for married joint filers.

Rules for identification, for payments made notwithstanding no filing of 2019 and 2020 returns, and for limitations on offsets apply. Eligibility is based on information from 2020 income tax returns (or 2019 returns, if 2020 returns haven’t been filed when the advanced credit is initially issued). For households whose payment was based on 2019 income data, and who would be eligible to receive a larger payment based on 2020 data, IRS is directed to issue a supplementary payment.

Child tax creditFor 2021 (1) qualifying children include 17-year-olds, (2) the credit is increased to $3,000 per child ($3,600 for children under six years of age), but the increase is subject to modified AGI phase out rules (and the existing modified AGI phase out rules for eligibility for any credit at all continue to apply), (3) the credit is refundable, and (4) IRS will make periodic advance payments totaling 50% of its estimate of the credit in the last half of 2021.

Earned income tax credit (EITC). (1) For 2021 the credit is increased for taxpayers with no qualifying children and age restrictions for those taxpayers are relaxed; (2) after 2020 taxpayers that have a qualifying child but can’t meet the identification requirements for the qualifying child are nevertheless allowed the credit; (3) taxpayers may use the greater of their 2019 or 2021 earned income in calculating the credit for 2021; (4) after 2020, the amount of investment income that a taxpayer can have and still earn the credit is increased; and (5) after 2020 there is broadening of the existing exception to the credit’s joint filing requirement under which separated married people eligible to file jointly are allowed the credit even if they don’t file jointly.

Child and dependent care credit. For 2021 (1) the credit is refundable; (2) the amount of qualifying expenses taken into account for the credit is increased from $3,000 to $8,000 if there’s one qualifying care recipient and from $6,000 to $16,000 if there are two or more; (3) the maximum percentage of qualifying expenses for which credit is allowed is increased to 50% from 35%; and (4) phase-down rules, based on AGI, are changed.

The increased dependent care assistance program exclusion amount (see below) under Code Sec. 129 will also affect the child and dependent care credit, as the amount of expenses taken into account for the credit is reduced by the amount excludable from the taxpayer’s income under Code Sec. 129.

Dependent care assistance programs. For 2021, the amount excludible under a dependent care assistance program is increased to $10,500 (or $7,500 for a married taxpayer filing a separate return). Retroactive plan amendments are allowed to facilitate the increase.

Health care premium assistance credit. For 2021 and 2022, the credit will be available for a larger percentage of insurance premiums, and individuals whose income is greater than 400% of the poverty line will be eligible for (rather than barred from) the credit. For 2020, individuals who were provided advances of the credit under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in excess of the credits to which they are entitled aren’t obligated to pay back the excess. And, notwithstanding any other rules, individuals who receive unemployment compensation during 2021 are eligible for the credit (and under rules that increase the amount of the credit).

Income exclusion for unemployment benefits. For 2020, taxpayers with modified AGI less than $150,000 can exclude from gross income $10,200 of their unemployment benefit. The exclusion is available to each spouse if a joint return is filed. For taxpayers who already filed 2020 returns and did not exclude unemployment benefits, IRS said that taxpayers shouldn’t file an amended return and that additional guidance will be provided.

Student loan forgiveness. Beginning in 2021 and continuing through 2025, the forgiveness of many types of loans for post-high school education won’t result in income inclusion for the forgiven amounts.

I’m available at your convenience to discuss in more detail any of the ARPA changes and how they apply to you.