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Suppose someone filed a tax return in 2020. Also suppose a child was either born or adopted into the family in 2021. Are they eligible to receive the monthly "Advance Child Tax Credit" payments from July to December 2021?

The IRS website is not very clear on this.

The website says...

To qualify for advance payments of the Child Tax Credit, you (and your spouse, if you filed a joint return) must have:

  • Filed a 2019 or 2020 tax return and claimed the Child Tax Credit on the return or
  • Given us your information in 2020 to receive the Economic Impact Payment with the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool or
  • Given us your information in 2021 with the Non-Filer: Submit Your Information tool; and ...

We fail on the first bullet point, because the child would not have been claimed on a return in 2019, or 2020 (since they were not yet born or adopted).

Regarding the second bullet point, the web page for the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here Tool says that the tool is closed and can't be used anymore (probably because its not 2020). And in any case doesn't appear to be appropriate for someone who actually filed a return.

The next possible option is to submitting to the IRS "your information in 2021 with the Non-Filer: Submit Your Information tool". For this the IRS web page links to a whitehouse.gov web page. That page doesn't really give any info regarding if someone who filed a return in 2020 would be eligible to use the "Non-Filer: Submit Your Information tool". But the name of the tool strongly suggests that its only for people who didn't file a return in 2020.

The IRS web page for the "Advance Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant" asks, as the first question...

Did you claim the Child Tax Credit on your most recent tax return and will you claim it on your 2021 tax return?

Since the child was adopted in 2021, the answer to the question is "no" because the child was not claimed on the most recent (2020) return (which would apply for either a newborn or adopted child). So it would appear one would not be eligible. But that sort of doesn't make sense. Normally one can claim a child tax credit for a child born at any time during the year. Even if the child were born at 11:59 PM December 31st. If the word and had been or, then the eligibility criteria would make more sense.

The white house web page also says.

The deadline to sign up for monthly Child Tax Credit payments is November 15

I assume they mean November, 15, 2021 (since the credit wasn't signed into law until March 2021). So it appears you can get the credit even if you sign up really late in the year.

I feel like I have to be missing something here. It doesn't seem plausible that it was the intent of the government to exclude families with a child born or adopted in 2021, who also filed taxes in 2020, but include people with older children or who didn't file taxes last year.

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Unfortunately, I don’t think you are missing anything.

I couldn’t find it explicitly stated any more clearly than what you already found on the Advance Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistance Tool, but it appears that if you have a new child in 2021, you are not eligible for the advance payments in 2021.

However, you will still be eligible for the 2021 Child Tax Credit (assuming you meet all the other eligibility requirements), just not the advance payment of that tax credit. So when you do your 2021 tax return in a few months, you should see the money then as either a refund or a reduction of the tax you owe.

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