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Home / Tips and Tricks / Is that IRS letter a check or child tax credit confirmation? Chances are it’s a good thing

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


Look out for a letter from the tax authorities. It could just be a signal that more money is coming your way.

Angela Lang/CNET

Usually a letter from the IRS sends a cold shiver down your spine when you least expect it, as it did for a colleague who looked at the white envelope with horror, fearing that an audit report was folded. For him, and 36 million other families in the US, a letter from the IRS could be a cause for celebration rather than a cause for concern. As he unfolded it, the meaning became clear: His family could qualify for: up to $3,600 per child as part of new child tax credit payment for 2021.

As many as 92% of families with children — that’s 65.6 million children — could qualify for the payments, starting next month. New rules this year increase the annual child tax credit from $2,000 to a maximum of $3,600 and begin delivering the money earlier than usual. So what’s the problem with this IRS letter? While you may be tempted to recycle it, it’s a smart idea to save it instead.

We’ll explain what the letter will and won’t tell you, and why you should look forward to a second letter from the IRS regarding your child tax credit checks. And what if you don’t get both letters at all? Don’t panic – we’ll help you through that too. (While you’re here, here’s how to do it unsubscribe from monthly prepayments and ideas for how to spend your child’s tax credit.)

Your First Child Tax Credit Letter from the IRS: What It Means?

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


This is a real copy of the letter from the IRS that could soon find its way into your mailbox.


… it means the IRS thinks you might qualify for the upcoming child tax credit, based on information from your 2019 or 2020 tax return or from data you submitted using the no-filers tool to file your stimulus check money. (You can also check here if you qualify and use our child tax calculator to see how much you could receive each month?.)

Until there’s a check in your hand or a direct deposit to your bank account, it’s a good idea not to take this letter as a guarantee of future child tax credit payment, but your chances are good. As with all IRS correspondence, you will want to keep this letter for your records.

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But wait. There is also a second letter

If you do indeed get the green light from the IRS to receive child tax credit payments — PS they begin July 15 — then you’ll be treated to a second letter confirming your eligibility. It also tells you how much money to expect in those checks.

The payment schedule child tax credit gets a little complicated from here, but the result is that half of the total money arrives in increments from July to December, and the remaining money comes your way after you file taxes in 2022.

You definitely want to keep this letter. Why? So you can compare the estimate with what you end up receiving to make sure you get the right amount for the right number of children you claim. In the event that there is a problem with the delivery of child tax credit checks, this letter is almost the same as your receipt from the IRS and you may need to refer to it in the future (such as in a chargeback claim on your 2021 taxes next year) .

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Mark the date in your calendar for the first child discount check.

Sarah Tew/CNET

What if I never get a letter from the tax authorities?

If a letter never shows up in your mailbox, that doesn’t necessarily mean the IRS is skipping you for child tax credit payments. After all, the vast majority of American households with children will receive some of the money earmarked for parents.

For example, while 36 million families are meant to get a letter, up to 39 million households could qualify for the credit. That means 3 million households could see a check, but no confirmation letter.

You may not receive a letter if the IRS:

What you can do now:

For more information about the child discount, use the following the two online IRS portals launch by early July and what happens when you have? a baby this year.

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