With tax season around the corner, you’ll likely be getting some mail soon from the IRS: The agency said it has started sending letters to taxpayers with details of government payments made during the pandemic.
In case you’re tempted to throw them away, the IRS specifically said this week that you shouldn’t do that. The agency said that taxpayers should keep the letters, which contain information about two types of payments, advance child tax credit payments and stimulus payments, to use when preparing their 2021 tax returns this year.
It might seem odd that the IRS is sending you information you'll need to include on tax returns you're going to file right back to the IRS, but the seemingly extra step may also help you identify if the agency made any errors. In other words, it's a good idea to reconcile the data in your IRS letters with your own records.
The child tax credit letter (Letter 6419) will include the total amount of advance payments you received in 2021, if you received any, and the number of qualifying children the IRS used to calculate the payments. The letter about stimulus payments (Letter 6475) will include the total amounts paid last year.
For many people, the only thing to do is keep the letters with their records. But if the IRS made a mistake–the number of children in your household, for example–you should correct that information when you do your tax return. Eligible families who did not receive any advance child tax credit payments can claim the full amount of the credit on their 2021 federal tax return. And if you were entitled to stimulus payments but didn’t receive them, or received too little, you can still get the money by claiming a recovery rebate credit on your 2021 tax return. You have to file a return to get any of these credits, even if you don’t usually file one. If you don’t end up owing any taxes, you should get the credits as part of your refund.
The IRS said it began issuing the letters on advance child tax credit payments in late December, while the letters on stimulus payments will go out by the end of January. If for some reason taxpayers don’t receive the letters, they can check their payments online using the IRS website.
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