But others may urge filers to use the amounts shown in their records, if they have documentation — like a bank statement — to show that they are accurate. That, however, could cause the I.R.S. to flag the return for review, delaying the entire refund — not just the amount tied to the child tax credit, said Erin M. Collins, the national taxpayer advocate. Ms. Collins heads the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent agency representing taxpayers inside the I.R.S.
One option could be to file a return using the I.R.S. numbers, then file an amended return later with the amounts documented in the filer’s records. Filers would eventually get the correct amount from the credit, without delaying their entire refund.
But Eric Smith, an I.R.S. spokesman, advised against that approach because the agency already has a large backlog of amended returns to process, and wait times will probably lengthen once filers begin submitting returns for 2021. “Amended returns take a long time, even under the best of circumstances,” he said.
Ms. Evenstad said filers who wanted to get at least part of their refund could choose to file with the I.R.S. numbers and then ask the agency to trace the payments in question so they could get the money once the difference was verified.
“They definitely should talk to their accountant,” Ms. Collins said, noting that her office does not give tax advice. Since there is still time before returns can be filed, she said, taxpayers can try to contact the I.R.S. to correct any discrepancy. Be aware, however, that wait times for assistance may be lengthy. “It’s not going to be a quick fix,” she said.
If you got advance payments but don’t receive an I.R.S. letter, you can go to the I.R.S.’s child tax credit update website and create an account to check your information online. (You’ll need to verify your identity, using an ID like a driver’s license or a passport, and you’ll need a way to take a photograph of yourself and upload it.)
The total amount of the credit varies from family to family, and is based on your child’s age as well as your income and filing status. Families with children 5 and younger are eligible for credits of as much as $3,600 per child, with up to $300 received monthly in advance; those with children ages 6 to 17 are eligible for up to $3,000, with up to $250 a month in advance. Families are eligible for the full amount if they earn less than $150,000 and are married filing a joint return. Single filers who earn less than $75,000 are also eligible for the full amount, as are head-of-household filers earning less than $112,500.