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No, parents can’t claim the child tax credit for children who turn 18 in 2021

The IRS has begun sending monthly child tax credit payments to eligible parents with children who will be 17 and younger at the end of the year.

The IRS on July 15 began sending monthly child tax credit payments to the bank accounts and mailboxes of about 35 million families throughout the United States. The child tax credit payment was increased this year and as part of changes under the American Rescue Plan signed by President Joe Biden in March, parents can receive part of the credit via advance payments that will continue once a month through December.

The VERIFY team has answered several questions about this year’s child tax credit, including whether children born in 2021 are eligible for the credit and how people who haven’t filed taxes can get their credit. But as payments are now beginning to arrive, VERIFY viewer Angie C. had a question regarding children who turn 18 this year.

THE QUESTION

Can parents get a monthly advance child tax credit payment for a child who turns 18 in 2021?

THE SOURCES

  • IRS
  • Mark Steber, chief tax information officer at Jackson Hewitt
  • Manny Dominguez, senior tax research analyst at The Tax Institute at H&R Block

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, parents will not be able to claim the child tax credit for a child who turns 18 at any point in 2021. However, they may be able to claim another credit for their 18-year-old child.

WHAT WE FOUND

The IRS states that a qualifying child for the purposes of the 2021 child tax credit “is an individual who does not turn 18 before January 1, 2022.” That child must also meet other conditions.

This year, the child tax credit was increased from up to $2,000 per qualifying child to up to $3,600 for children ages 5 and younger at the end of 2021 and up to $3,000 for children ages 6 through 17 at the end of 2021. For the advance monthly payments that began July 15, families can receive up to $300 a month for each eligible child ages 5 and younger, and up to $250 a month for each eligible child ages 6 through 17. In total, the monthly payments could add up to half of the child tax credit, with people claiming the rest of the credit when they file tax information for 2021.

Mark Steber, chief tax information officer at Jackson Hewitt, and Manny Dominguez, senior tax research analyst at The Tax Institute at H&R Block, also both said parents of children who turn 18 at any point in 2021 will not be eligible to claim the child tax credit for that child.

Steber and Dominguez said the IRS will typically adjust the age of each dependent based on the prior year’s tax return.

“The IRS generally adjusts the age of each dependent based on the prior year’s return, either 2020 or 2019, so a taxpayer shouldn’t automatically receive the advance payment for their 18 year old,” Steber said. “But, if the IRS has made an error and sends payments to ineligible taxpayers, taxpayers should opt-out of collecting the monthly advance payments. If ineligible taxpayers don’t opt out and still receive these payments, they may be required to pay back the IRS.”

Anyone who wants to opt-out of receiving advance monthly payments, or update information related to the payments, can do so on the IRS website.

Although parents won’t be able to claim the child tax credit for their 18-year-old child, there may be another option.

“An 18-year-old can be eligible for the other dependent credit, which is a $500 non-refundable credit that is claimed when filing the return,” Dominguez said.

The other dependents credit is meant for a qualifying relative who is being cared for. There are other conditions that impact whether a parent can claim an 18-year-old child for the other dependents credit, including how long the dependent lived with the parent and the dependent’s income. More information can be found on the IRS website

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