Filing your 2021 Federal Income Tax return: Child Tax Credit

Nearly every family is eligible to receive the expanded Child Tax Credit, including families that haven’t filed a tax return previously and families that don’t have recent income.

Each qualifying household is eligible to receive up to $3,600 for each child under 6 years old, and $3,000 for each child between 6 and 17 years old. The credit is not a loan!

Since the American Rescue Plan expanded eligibility and increased the amount of this tax credit for children, almost all families qualify. Even families who have not filed a tax return before or do not have recent income are eligible for the full Child Tax Credit. Anyone who has a child with a Social Security number (SSN) can get it, even if they do not have an SSN themselves. 

All you must do is file a tax return this year. Families who received monthly payments last year will get the second half of the credit when they file taxes this year. If you missed out on payments during 2021, you will still get the full credit when you file your taxes this year.

If you are filing for the first time, or have additional questions, visit, call 211 or make an appointment with your local Taxpayer Assistance Center to learn more about how to get your money!

I have children but didn’t work in 2021. Can I claim the Child Tax Credit?

You may claim the Refundable Child Tax Credit on your 2021 Federal income tax return even if you did not work or have any income. You must have lived in the United States for more than half of 2021 AND have a Qualifying Child with a valid Social Security Number.

Visit to get your tax credit.

Remember: Any refund you receive because you claimed the Refundable Child Tax Credit is not counted as income when determining your eligibility for federal government assistance or benefit programs.

IRS Quick Info Guide

Do I have to repay my Advanced Child Tax Credit?

If you received an Advance Child Tax Credit payment in 2021 but had changes to your family, income, or living situations, then you may have to repay some or all the amount you received to the IRS. 

The amount of Advance Child Tax Credit payments sent in 2021 was based on an estimate of the amount of Child Tax Credits you could claim based on your:

  • Income
  • Filing status
  • Residence
  • Number of dependents.

If your situation changed after you received payments, then the IRS MAY have overpaid you and you may have to repay the IRS by reporting the overpayment on your 2021 tax return. 

Is there help for families & individuals who must repay the Advance Child Tax Credit?

The Repayment Protection Plan can help low-income families and taxpayers.  It is particularly beneficial to families and individuals who had a change in the number of qualifying children in 2021, such as divorced parents with children. 

To qualify for full Repayment Protection and not have to pay back any overpayments, you must meet the following requirements:

  • your main home was in the United States for more than half of 2021 AND
  • your modified adjusted gross income (AGI) for 2021 was:
    •  At or below $60,000 (married filing joint or qualifying widow or widower)
    • $50,000 (head of household)
    • $40,000 (single or married filing separate). 

The Repayment Protection amount is then phased out, or lowered, as your modified AGI gets higher.  If your modified AGI was at or above $120,000 (married filing joint or qualifying widow or widower), $100,000 (head of household), or $80,000 (single or married filing separate) then the Repayment Protection is capped, and you will have to pay back all excess payments. 

To find out more about Repayment Protection and the Advance Child Tax Credit, visit:


The 2021 Child Tax Credit | Information About Payments & Eligibility
Determining Your Family’s Child Tax Credit Eligibility | Age & Income
Free Income Tax Preparation Resource: VITA Sites