Is that IRS letter an audit or child tax credit confirmation? Chances are, it’s a good thing

Ordinarily, a letter from the IRS when you least expect it might send a chill down your spine, as it did for one colleague who eyed the white envelope with alarm, fearing an audit notice lay folded inside. For him, and 36 million other families across the US, a letter from the IRS could actually be a cause for celebration, rather than concern. As he unfolded it, the meaning became clear: His family could qualify for up to $3,600 per child as part of the new child tax credit payment for 2021.

As many as 92% of families with children — that’s 65.6 million kids — could qualify for the payments, which start next month. New rules this year will boost the annual child tax credit from $2,000 to a cap of $3,600 and start delivering the money sooner than usual. So what’s the big deal with this IRS letter? While you might be tempted to recycle it, it’s a smart idea to keep it instead.

We’ll explain what the letter will and won’t tell you, and why you should keep a lookout for a second letter from the IRS about your child tax credit checks. And what if you don’t get either letter at all? Don’t panic — we’ll walk you through that, too. (While you’re here, here’s how you can opt out of the advance monthly payments and ideas for how to spend your child tax credit money.)

 Your first child tax credit letter from the IRS: What it means

Congratulations. If a letter that looks like this arrives in the mail… (see directly below)

… it means the IRS thinks you could qualify for the upcoming child tax credit, based on information it has from your 2019 or 2020 tax return or from details you filed using the non-filers tool to get your stimulus check money. (You can also check here to see if you qualify and use our child tax calculator to see how much you could expect to receive each month.)

Until there’s a check in your hand or direct deposit in your bank account, it’s a good idea not to treat this letter as a guarantee of a child tax credit payment to come, but your chances are good. As with all IRS correspondence, you’ll want to hold onto this letter for your records…Read more>>


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