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Guide to IRS online ways to get, track or change Advance Child Tax Credit payments

Don't fall for scammers who falsely say they can help you get, or get more, of the enhanced Child Tax Credit amounts that started going out this week. Instead, get help from a tax pro or use the Internal Revenue Service's online tools.

Mom dad and son having fun on beach

The Advance Child Tax Credit (AdvCTC) payments started showing up in bank accounts today. Folks who'll get the enhanced early credit amounts by snail mail should see those U.S. Treasury checks soon.

The Internal Revenue Service says it delivered today the first batch of the early Child Tax Credit payments, worth roughly $15 billion, to around 35 million families.

About 86 percent of those payments — up to $300 per month for each child younger than age 6 and up to $250 per month for each child ages 6 through 17 — were by direct deposit. Subsequent payments will show up in taxpayer accounts on Aug. 13, Sept. 15, Oct. 15, Nov. 15, and Dec. 15.

Another thing showing up today and through the end of the year is AdvCTC tax scams.

AdvCTC is latest tax scam bait: Every time the Internal Revenue Service is involved in any transaction, and even when the agency isn't, crooks and con artists use tax transactions as a scam hook.

Don't fall for any of the AdvCTC ploys that are sure to appear.

Unexpected and unsolicited phone calls, emails, texts or social media contacts from strangers saying they can help you get the AdvCTC or more of it are lies.

Con artists simply are using the early 2021 credit payments as bait to get your and your children's Social Security numbers and other personal data, including bank account information, so they can steal your identity and cash.

Go directly to IRS online info: Beyond sending a pre-issuance letter back in June simply for informational purposes, the IRS is not reaching out to taxpayers in connection with the AdvCTC payments now arriving in bank accounts and soon in curbside mailboxes.

Rather, it's asking individuals who have AdvCTC questions or want to make changes to use the agency's online tools, notably the Child Tax Credit Update Portal. There you'll find a variety of info about your payment or to make changes to get the advance money how you want it or stop it altogether.

The IRS has released the following table as a guide to which online tool to use.

Advance Payments of the Child Tax Credit
Which Online Tool Should I Use?

If you need to …

Then use this tool:

Check your eligibility for the Child Tax Credit

The Eligibility Assistant helps you determine if you might be eligible for advance payments of the Child Tax Credit. It's available in English and Spanish.

Register for advance payments of the Child Tax Credit AND don't normally have to file a tax return

The Non-filer Sign-up Tool will let individuals who normally don't have to file a tax return complete a simplified return to get advance Child Tax Credit payments. The tool also can be used by non-filers to facilitate claims of the Recovery Rebate Credit and COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments.

Verify your identity before using the Child Tax Credit Update Portal

Go to the Child Tax Credit Update Portal and click "Manage Advance Payments."

New users first must create an ID.me account at the IRS and verify their identities. Since we started this post with a scam warning, the IRS points out that ID.me is one of the federal agency's trusted third parties.

If you have an existing IRS account, use your Secure Access username and password and enter the security code as part of the multi-factor authentication (MFA) process.

If you have an existing account with ID.me from a state government or federal agency, you may use your email and password and complete MFA.

Unenroll from advance payments of the child tax credit

You can use the Child Tax Credit Update Portal to unenroll from automatic payments if you:

  • prefer to claim the full credit when filing your 2021 tax return, or
  • you know you're not eligible because your situation changed for 2021.

Manage bank account information

The IRS will issue payments to the bank account entered on your 2020 or 2019 tax return, or to an account known to the federal government, such as the one to which Social Security, veterans or railroad retirement benefits are automatically deposited. If you need to update your bank account information or add a bank account, use the Child Tax Credit Update Portal.

View history of Advance Child Tax Credit payments you receive

After payments are issued, the Child Tax Credit Update Portal tool will show your payment dates and amounts.

Update your mailing address

If you are not enrolled in direct deposit, you will receive your AdvCTC each month as a Treasury check delivered via the U.S. Postal Service.

If your mailing address in the IRS database has changed, starting in August, you can update it using the Child Tax Credit Update Portal. The IRS notes that while it plans to have this online snail mail change option available next month, the timing of its availability is subject to change.

You can (and should) let the IRS know of your physical address change by filing Form 8822.

Report updates that could affect your payment amounts

If your family and/or income situation has changed in 2021, starting in early fall you can use the Child Tax Credit Update Portal to report this new info. This includes revisions to:

  • number of qualifying children
  • marital status
  • income
  • custody agreement

Don't delay reporting the changes. They could affect your AdvCTC eligibility and the amount you receive this year.

Good intentions, still confusing:
OK. I know. Sometimes these IRS online options are not the easiest to use.  And a lot of times, if your situation is not a basic, cut-and-dried one, things are confusing. OK, more confusing.

Ken Corbin, Commissioner of the IRS' Wage and Investment Division and the agency's chief taxpayer experience officer, recently joined Washington Post personal finance columnist Michelle Singletary for an online chat with folks seeking answers about the payments. Many of the questions (and Corbin's answers) dealt with a variety of family situations and how the AdvCTC payments apply.

If you still have questions or concerns about the AdvCTC or any other tax matter, deal only with a trusted tax professional or the IRS directly.

Do not fall for unsolicited outreach from those purporting to be with the tax agency or a group that can "help" you get Advance Child Tax Credit or other tax-related amounts. They are lying. It's a scam.

IRS AdvCTC scams video screenshot
More on Advance Child Tax Credit scams in this IRS YouTube video.

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