You can now opt out of the monthly child tax credit payments before they start in July

Look out for a soon-to-be open IRS portal to defer monthly installments until this year. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

The IRS opened on Tuesday a new child tax credit portal. This new online tool will let families opt out of the monthly payments starting next month. Instead of receiving each month up to $300 per child through the end of this year, by unenrolling, you can claim the full amount with next spring’s tax refund. 

Why would you choose to unenroll in the advance partial payment program and receive the total credit in 202? If you know your income or number of dependents will change this year, for example, and you don’t want the hassle of changing your personal details with the IRS. To opt out, you’ll have to use the Child Tax Credit Update Portal.

Keep reading to find out why you may want to opt out and what extra steps those who are married and file jointly need to take. In the meantime, here’s how you can claim up to $16,000 in child care expenses as a tax break next year, and some ideas for the best ways to spend your child tax credit money when it comes. Plus, here’s what we know about the new stimulus plans and how they might bring you more money. This story gets regular updates.

How do you opt out of the monthly child tax credit payments?

Here’s how to opt out of the monthly payments.

1. Head to the new Child Tax Credit Update Portal and tap the Unenroll from Advance Payments button at the bottom of the page.

2. On the next page, sign in using your IRS account or your account. If you have neither, the page will walk you through setting up an account.

3. On the next page, the Child Tax Credit Update Portal, you can see your eligibility and unenroll from the monthly payments

What is the deadline to opt out? Can you opt back in?

You can opt out any time this year and not receive your remaining monthly payments. To unenroll, the IRS said you must opt out three days before the first Thursday of the month to not receive the next month’s payment. See the chart below for more. If you miss that deadline, the IRS said you will get the next scheduled advance payment until the agency can process your request to unenroll.

The IRS said currently if you unenroll, you can’t re-enroll. Starting in late September, you will be able to opt back in.

Child tax credit payment unenrollment dates

Payment Month Unenrollment Deadline Payment Date
July June 28 July 15
August Aug. 2 Aug. 13
September Sept. 30 Sept. 15
October Oct. 4 Oct. 15
November Nov. 1 Nov. 15
December Nov. 29 Dec. 15

Do both parents need to opt out?

If you are married and file jointly, both you and your spouse need to opt out. If only one of you opts out, you will get half of the joint payment you were supposed to receive with your spouse, the IRS said.

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What’s the payment schedule for those who opt out?

Those who choose to decline this year’s child tax credit installments (amounting to half the total) will still receive the same amount of money in the end, but are simply delaying when they receive it. 

Be aware that if you unenroll from getting the monthly child tax credits from July through December, you won’t get your full payment — or any payment at all — until after the IRS processes your 2021 tax return next year. The total amount will then arrive with your tax refund, or could be used to offset any taxes you owe at that time; you’ll be in a similar situation to those people who had to claim missing stimulus checks on their taxes this year.

So if you have a child who’s 5 years old or younger by the end of 2021 and your income meets the requirements, you’ll get $3,600 total when you file your taxes in 2022. However, if you choose to receive monthly payments, you’d get six installments of $300 payments each month this year and another $1,800 with your tax refund next year instead. You can use our child tax credit 2021 calculator to estimate how much you should get.

Why opt out of advance child tax credit payments in 2021?

Here are three major reasons why unenrolling from the monthly child tax credit payment program may be a good idea: 

  • You’d rather have one large payment next year instead of seven smaller payments spanning 2021 and 2022. This could be the case for families saving up for a big expense or those who have budgeted for that money to pay off outstanding debt. 
  • You know your household circumstances or tax situation will change and don’t want to deal with having to update your information in the portal.
  • You’re concerned the IRS might send you an overpayment based on changes to your situation this year, and you don’t want to worry about paying that money back next year.

How will the new IRS portal let families defer this year’s monthly installments? 

If you filed your taxes before the May 17 deadline, then you’ll automatically receive the advance monthly payments starting July 15. The IRS Child Tax Credit Update Portal allow you to unenroll from the partial monthly payments. An online IRS portal for nonfilers is already available.

We also know the portals can be used to update the IRS with any changes that have happened since you last filed your taxes. For example, if you had a new baby in 2021, gained a new qualified dependent or if your income changed recently, the IRS wouldn’t have that on file yet.

For more child tax credit information, what to know about the child tax credit payment timeline and how to estimate your total payment using CNET’s child tax credit calculator