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Child Tax Credit: How to Get Your Money if You Lost the IRS Letter

If you're eligible for the child tax credit, you still have at least half of it coming. But what if you lost the IRS letter you need to claim it?

IRS Form 8812 for Additional Child Tax Credit
The remaining half of the 2021 child tax credit is coming with tax refunds.
Getty Images

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.

Last year's American Rescue Plan expanded the child tax credit significantly, raising the amount of money that eligible parents can receive from a previous level of $2,000 per child up to $3,600 for each kid under 6 or $3,000 for children 6 to 17.

The change to the child tax credit also instituted monthly advance payments up to $300 for each child from July to December 2021, giving parents an early $1,800 per child. Now it's time for families to claim the remaining money on their 2021 tax returns.

To get that money, however, parents need IRS Letter 6419, 2021 advance CTC. These IRS letters were mailed in December and January to families who received advance monthly payments. Parents need to report the official amount of payments they received in 2021 to get the rest of the credit with their tax refund.

If you never received IRS Letter 6419 or you lost it, don't panic. Read on to learn what the letter includes, how to report it and what to do if you don't have it.

For more information, here's everything to know about possible child tax credit payments in 2022. Also, learn if you might have to pay back child tax credit money and what to do if you're having issues with a missing payment.

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What info does IRS Letter 6419 include?

The IRS letter -- called Letter 6419 -- has important information that can help you when you prepare your taxes. The notice will show how much child tax credit money you received in 2021 and the number of qualifying dependents used to calculate your total amount. 

You'll need to cross-check the information to make sure it's still correct. For example, if you had a baby since you last filed your taxes, the IRS wouldn't have counted that dependent when determining how much money you're eligible for. Therefore, you'll need to make sure your information is updated when you file your tax return.

How do I report the information from Letter 6419 on my tax return?

If you're using tax software to file your 2021 tax return, the program will simply ask you for the total amount of advance child tax credit money you received last year and perform the necessary calculations for you. If you're doing your own taxes by hand, you'll enter the total amount from Letter 6419 on line 14f of IRS Schedule 8812.

Important: If you're married filing jointly and you received advance child tax credit payments, you and your spouse should have both received separate letters from the IRS. You'll need to provide the total amount of both letters for your 2021 tax return. 

What if you lost, threw away or never received the IRS letter?

If you accidentally disposed of Letter 6419, lost it or never got it, you can still claim the rest of your money. Your child tax credit information is available via the IRS website, but you'll need to create an online IRS account to access it.

Registering for an account on the IRS site takes a bit of time and patience, but once you're in, you will have all the necessary information for the child tax credit, along with other useful IRS information for preparing your taxes.

Again, if you're married filing jointly, you'll need to combine the amount of payments made to you and your spouse. You and your partner should both log in to your separate IRS accounts and include the total of your advance monthly payments on your 2021 tax return.

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The amount of child tax credit money you get depends on a number of things.

Sarah Tew/CNET

What if the info in the letter isn't correct?

Unfortunately, the IRS has warned that some of the information in the letters might be wrong, which could throw a wrench into the process of completing your tax return. 

The IRS says that the number of affected families is low and limited to taxpayers who moved or changed bank accounts in December. If you believe the information in your IRS letter isn't accurate, first check your banking account for deposits from the IRS. Search for the description IRS TREAS 310 CHILDCTC to locate specific monthly child tax credit payments.

If your banking account lists different monthly payment information to what is listed on IRS Letter 6419, the IRS recommends logging into an online IRS account. The agency stressed that the IRS website has accurate information on child tax credit payments. If the website lists money that you didn't receive, you may need to contact the IRS to request a payment trace.

How much child tax credit money will come with your tax refund?

The amount of child tax credit money you receive with your tax refund depends on a number of things. For instance, if you opted out of receiving the monthly payments last year, the amount of money you get will be larger than someone who received every check. The monthly checks were for up to $300 for children 5 and younger and up to $250 for kids 6 and older.

So if you were eligible for the full amount and opted out of the payments, you could get up to $3,600 per child with your tax refund. However, if you received all six payments in 2021, you could get up to $1,800 per child, depending on the ages of your children.

If you're still waiting on a payment to arrive due to an IRS error, that should also arrive with your tax refund.

For more information, here's how to contact the IRS with child tax credit questions. Also, you could be eligible for up to $16,000 if you paid for child care last year.