Nearly 450,000 Arizonans will receive early federal child tax credit checks of up to $400 per dependent this summer.

The checks, an advance payment of the 2003 increase in the child tax credit, will be based on the child tax credit claimed on the taxpayer’s 2002 tax return, according to the Internal Revenue Service. In all, more than 25 million Americans will receive an advance payment.

The Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 increased the maximum child tax credit for 2003 from $600 to $1,000 per child.

The law instructed the Treasury Department to provide the difference, up to $400 per child, as an advance payment to each eligible taxpayer this summer.

"If you do qualify, it’s an automatic item that you would receive it in the mail," said Bill Brunson, IRS spokesman in Phoenix. "If they don’t receive it then they’ll be able to claim it on their (2003 federal) return when they file it in 2004."

The first checks will be mailed July 25 to taxpayers whose last two digits of their Social Security numbers arebetween 00 and 33. A second mailing will be Aug. 1 for numbers 34 through 66, and then Aug. 8 for numbers 67 through 99.

Notices will be sent July 23 and 30 and Aug. 6 informing taxpayers of the advance payment amount. Taxpayers should save the notices because they will need to take the advance payment into account when determining the amount of their child tax credit on their 2003 tax return.

Those who received extensions and haven’t yet filed their returns would receive the advance payment check as long as it can be issued before the end of the year, Brunson said. After that, they will be able to claim it on their 2003 return, he said.

"The law will not allow us to issue a check for an advance payment after the end of the year," he said.

The child tax credit is for filers who can claim a dependent who will be under age 17 by the end of this year, so the child would have to have been born no earlier than 1986, Brunson said.

"Depending upon the individual circumstance it can be up to $400 per qualifying child," he said.

Those whose children were born this year will be able to claim the credit when they file their 2003 return.

"If folks have moved since they filed their last tax return, and they haven’t notified us or the post office of their new address, they need to make an address change so that we can get them their credit payment," Brunson said.

Those with questions can call the IRS helpline between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Monday through Friday at (800) 829-1040.

"The only thing the taxpayer needs to do is cash the check," said Mark Everson, IRS commissioner.

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