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IRS errors on child tax credit letter: What to do if your info is wrong

Don't panic if your child tax credit letter has incorrect details. Learn what to do next.

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The IRS letter is necessary for taxpayers claiming the child tax credit this year.
Angela Lang/CNET

This story is part of Taxes 2022, CNET's coverage of the best tax software and everything else you need to get your return filed quickly, accurately and on-time.

The expanded child tax credit for 2021 isn't over yet. Most families received half of the credit in advance via monthly payments last year, but there's still more money to be claimed -- $1,800 per child under 6 and $1,000 per child age 6 to 17. Families will get the money when they file their 2021 tax returns and receive their tax refunds.

Unfortunately, IRS errors on an importance notice are making the process more complicated than it should be. 

IRS Letter 6419 includes all the info you'll need to "reconcile your child tax credit" when you file your taxes. However, if you've received that document and noticed the information is incorrect, there could be a number of reasons why.

The IRS says it's working on the issue and will provide taxpayers with resources to make sure they have access to the most up-to-date information to file their taxes. The agency is also encouraging people to check their online IRS account to confirm their advance child tax credit payment details.

We'll explain what the problem might be if your child tax credit letter is inaccurate, and what experts say to do. For more information, here's the latest on the child tax credit getting extended this year and an explanation of who is eligible for the child tax credit.

The IRS letter could be wrong if you're married and filing jointly

If you're married and filing taxes jointly, you and your spouse will each receive a letter from the IRS. Once you both get the notice, you'll need to combine that information when you file your tax return. Tax Act's Vice President of Tax Operations Mark Jaeger told CNET there's been confusion with both parents receiving a letter and only entering the information from one letter. Doing this could delay your refund. Plus, you'll likely have to file an amended return to receive the rest of your money.

This is a similar complication for married parents filing jointly who opted out of the child tax credit. Both parents needed to unenroll separately to stop receiving payment altogether. If only one opted out, the other would still receive a partial payment.

If the details on the form still seem off when combining letters, read on to see what else it could be.

If you moved in December, the letter could have incorrect information

Did you move at the end of 2021? If so, that could be why your letter from the IRS has inaccurate figures. The IRS says those who moved in December could be among those with erroneous information because their final child tax credit check may have been returned as undeliverable.

We recommend updating the IRS and USPS with your new address when you move. Doing so could help prevent any money owed to you from being delayed -- for instance, the rest of your child tax credit money, your tax refund and any stimulus money you haven't received.

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Changing bank accounts in December may have caused the problem

Did you switch to a new bank account in December? That could've caused your IRS letter details to be wrong. The IRS says people who changed bank accounts in December are among those affected. This is because the direct deposits were likely rejected since the older bank account had been closed.

What to do about an incorrect child tax credit letter

If the details on your child tax credit letter aren't correct, wait for further instructions from the IRS. The agency said it is working to provide people with the updated information they need to file their taxes.

You can also check your online IRS account to see if your information has been updated. If the information on your account shows the same as the letters but it's inaccurate, Jaeger says you have a couple of options.

Option 1: Go ahead and submit your taxes with the information on file so your tax refund isn't delayed and then file an amended return once your IRS account shows the correct amount owed to you. 

Option 2: File your taxes with the amount that's actually owed to you. This could result in your tax refund being delayed as it'll likely cause extra processing for the IRS. Jaeger says that if you go this route, it could be months before you get your refund. 

We don't recommend calling the IRS about issues with your notice as call volumes are much higher and you'll likely be waiting a while to speak with someone.

For more details, here's what to know about your tax refund and how to track it. Also, here are three reasons why you should set up direct deposit with the IRS this year.