Child tax credit info now online

"Where's My Advance Child Tax Credit?"

People waiting for child tax credits can check the status of their refunds on the Web.

The Internal Revenue Service is offering an electronic service for taxpayers to find out the amount of their advance child tax credit and to see when the check was mailed.

By clicking on the "Where's My Advance Child Tax Credit?" link on the IRS Web site, taxpayers can learn more after entering their social security number, filing status and number of extensions. For example, the service will indicate the amount of the return and any explanation, such as back taxes, for the refund amount, said IRS spokesman Tim Harms.

Launched in the middle of July, the new service is similar to the IRS' successful "Where's My Refund?" program launched last year.

The child tax site has already had 9 million hits, Harms said. Only about 25 million taxpayers receive these checks, compared to the 95 million who receive tax refunds each year, Harms said. The service is only available on the Internet, though taxpayers can call a hotline for general information about the tax credit.

The service might not help those trying to determine if they qualify. Harms said the language of the notice indicates only when you would receive a payment if you are eligible.

"If you don't qualify, it's not quite as clear," he said. "It's technically correct, but it might lead you to believe you qualify. You have to read if carefully."

The Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 raised the maximum of the Child Tax Credit from $600 per child to $1,000 per child. Eligible taxpayers could get up to $400 for each child claimed on their 2002 returns.

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