How to Get Your $300/Month Child Credits if You Don’t File a Tax Return

A grandfather gives his grandson a piggy back ride.
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This post refers to child tax credit payments issued in 2021. For the most up-to-date info, check out our recent tax articles.

If you have dependent children under 18 and you’re not required to file a tax return, you probably qualify for the temporary child tax credits that will start going out in July.

Now there’s a way for non-filers to register to receive the payments of up to $300 for children younger than 6 and up to $250 for children ages 6 to 17. The IRS just released its Non-Filer Sign-up Tool for the child tax credits. In just a few minutes, you can give the IRS the information it needs so that the first check hits your bank account on July 15.

What Is the Non-Filer Tool and How Do I Use It?

The non-filer tool is a feature on the IRS website that allows people who aren’t required to file taxes to provide the information the IRS needs to process stimulus payments and the child tax credits. For people who have to file taxes, the IRS receives this information from their tax returns. But some people aren’t required to file taxes because they have little or no income.

The feature was originally developed to distribute the first round of stimulus checks to non-filers.

To use the non-filer tool, you’ll need to provide:

  • Your name
  • Your email address
  • Date of birth
  • Your current mailing address
  • Social Security numbers for yourself and all dependents
  • Bank account number and routing number
  • Identity protection number if the IRS provided you with one earlier in the year

Who Should Use the Non-Filer Tool?

You should only use the non-filer tool if you didn’t file a tax return for 2020 and don’t plan to file one. After you provide the information listed above, the IRS will tell you whether you qualify for the child credits. If you didn’t receive your stimulus checks and aren’t required to file taxes, you can also use the non-filer tool to get your payments.

If you filed a tax return in 2019 and reported all your dependents then, you don’t need to use the tool because the IRS already has the information it needs. Likewise, if you used the non-filer tool last year to get your stimulus checks and you reported all your dependents, you don’t need to use it now.

How Can I Update My Information With the IRS?

Don’t use the non-filer tool to update information that’s already on file with the IRS. The IRS will release a Child Tax Credit update portal later this month.

You’ll be able to provide information for children you haven’t been able to claim on past tax returns, report a change in income or marital status and update your mailing address. The portal will also allow you to update your banking info, which the IRS generally hasn’t allowed you to do through its website in the past.

The monthly payments are an advance on a temporary 2021 tax credit of $3,600 for children younger than 6 and $3,000 for kids between ages 6 and 17. Half of the credit will be paid each month from July through December. The remaining half will be paid out as a tax credit next year.

You’ll be allowed to use the portal to opt out of the advance credit if you’d prefer to receive the entire amount next year at tax time.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected].