Special tips for the advance Child Tax Credit and filing the 2021 tax return

Key things to look for when receiving an IRS letter; Check Online Account if uncertain about amounts

FS-2022-5, January 2022

People who received advance Child Tax Credit payments should file a 2021 tax return to get the remainder of the credit for which they are eligible.

Carefully read advance CTC letter 6419: To help eligible taxpayers, the IRS sent letters ("2021 Total Advance Child Tax Credit (AdvCTC) Payments") to payment recipients to help ensure tax returns are accurate. For further questions about advance payments, IRS urges people to check their IRS Online Account. The Online Account includes the official figures in the IRS systems; using this number will help avoid potential processing and refund delays. Taxpayers should correctly include the amount of advance Child Tax Credit payments they received last year when filing their tax return to ensure a timely refund.

Be careful, file an accurate return: People who file an accurate tax return electronically with direct deposit will generally see their refunds within 21 days after the filing is accepted by the IRS. Taxpayers should carefully assemble their records and ensure that their tax returns are filed accurately. Incorrect entries will mean the IRS will need to further review the tax return, which could create an extensive delay.

Get your total payment amount: To ensure people accurately complete their 2021 tax return, use the advance Child Tax Credit information in your IRS Online Account beginning January 31. When in doubt about the amount, check IRS Online Account.

Special information for taxpayers who moved or changed bank accounts in December: A limited group of taxpayers may receive an IRS letter with an incorrect amount of the payments received. Those in this small, affected group generally involve people who moved or changed bank accounts in December 2021, and their checks were returned as undeliverable, or their direct deposits were rejected. The IRS encourages anyone who thinks the letter might not be accurate to rely on the amount of payments reflected in their Online Account on IRS.gov.

Caution for Married Filing Joint couples: Letters sent to taxpayers who filed as Married Filing Joint are being sent to each spouse separately with only their half of the payments received. This means married taxpayers will each receive a letter, and they will need to combine the information from the letters when they file their joint return. If the advance payments total differs between their Letter 6419 and their IRS Online Account, rely on the total in their Online Account.

Here is more information on several areas:

Reporting advance payments total on your 2021 tax return

If someone received advance payments of the Child Tax Credit, they need to reconcile or compare the total amount received in 2021 with the amount they are eligible to claim on their tax return. "Reconciling" the advance Child Tax Credit payments means:

  1. Compare the total amount of the advance Child Tax Credit payments that a taxpayer received during 2021 (even if that amount is $0) with
  2. The amount of the Child Tax Credit they can properly claim on their 2021 tax return.

To reconcile — or compare — these amounts, taxpayers will need to do the following:

  • Get the advance payments total and number of qualifying children in their IRS Online Account. Taxpayers can also refer to Letter 6419. If the amount in their Online Account differs from their letter, they should rely on the amount reflected in their Online Account.
  • Enter the information when prompted by their tax software or on Schedule 8812 of the Form 1040.

What if Letter 6419 has a different advance payment total than expected?

For the majority of taxpayers, the advance payments total in Letter 6419 will match the total in the IRS Online Account.

If the advance payments total differs between their Letter 6419 and their IRS Online Account, they should rely on the total in their Online Account. If the person believes they received a different amount than what the letter indicates, they should check the IRS Online Account; this is the information the IRS has on file. Submitting a different amount on the tax return could mean additional IRS review is needed and could mean a refund delay.

The IRS Online Account has the most current advance payment information. Caution: Do not rely on the Child Tax Credit Update Portal or Tax Transcripts for the advance payments total; this information may be outdated.

If Married Filing Jointly, remember to check amounts for both spouses

If married taxpayers received advance payments based on a joint return, each spouse is treated as having received half of the payments, unless one of them took steps to unenroll from payments in 2021 using the Child Tax Credit Update Portal.

To reconcile their advance payments on their joint 2021 tax return, each spouse should add the advance payments together to provide the total amount of their advance payments. Remember, each spouse can find their individual advance payment total in their Online Account.