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IRS Update: Refunds, Stimulus, Child Credit

By Terry Savage on June 16, 2021

The IRS has been the busiest agency of government for the past 18 months. To say the agency is multi-tasking is an understatement. They’ve just about finished sending out refunds on 2019 tax refunds on returns filed last July. They sent out $600 stimulus payments in January, and $1400 stimulus payments are still going out to millions of Americans.

Meanwhile, they’re creating a new system to start sending out $300 or $250 monthly child benefit checks to millions of families starting July 15th. (Children under 6 at yearend 2021 get the larger check; parents of children 6-17 receive $250/month.) Parents must have single income under $75,000 or joint income under $150, to qualify. So that’s quite a project for the IRS.

And, as if that weren’t enough to keep them occupied, they are refunding taxes paid on the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits. As well, they are sending out “PlusUp” payments to those who received less than the full $1400 (based on 2019 returns) and qualified for more stimulus based on 2020 returns!

Where’s My Refund
So, yes, the IRS is behind, but they are working hard at these tasks. And it’s almost impossible to get individual attention if you are missing a refund or stimulus check. The online tools are not always helpful, even in letting you know that your return has been received. That’s why you should always mail paper returns and quarterly estimates using certified mail, with return receipt requested.

Those who filed electronically and included direct deposit information, should have received most refund checks already. Paper returns are taking much longer – especially if there is anything that pops up for review, like a missing W-2 form, or some form of identity theft where your Social Security number was used to file for benefits you never knew about.
The IRS does have a “where’s my refund” tool on its website.

It’s supposed to be updated daily, but it may still cause you more aggravation than peace of mind if the IRS is working on your return or set it aside for individual review, even for a trivial reason.. Do NOT send in another tax return as that will only mess up the process. The IRS will contact you if they need more information. Again the word of the day is patience.

The good news is that if your refund is delayed, the IRS will pay 3% interest back to April. That’s more than you can get in a bank safely, for sure! Although the IRS is behind, it is extremely well organized. They will get to your return, and your refund. But the process will require PATIENCE!

Lost Stimulus Payments
Still, many people are worried that their $1400 stimulus payment went astray. (You should have claimed missing earlier payments on your 2020 tax return.) Eventually, you will get that $1400 as a credit on your 2021 return when you file next April. But that’s a long time to wait!

So here’s what to do if you are still missing the $1400 check. Go to the IRS.gov “Get My Payment” tool. It will show whether a payment has been issued. If you had entered direct deposit information, give at least 5 business days for the money to land in your account. And if it didn’t arrive in your account, check first with your bank.
If the check was mailed to you, give it at least four weeks from the date of issuance to arrive at your home.

Still missing your stimulus check, and it shows issued in one form or another? Then, you can either call 800-919-9835 or download Form 3911 and mail or fax, as indicated, to start a payment trace. Be sure to follow the instructions for modifying the entries, as the normal use of this form is for a lost, stolen or undelivered tax refund. In this case, you are searching out a missing stimulus check.

Here’s a link to the IRS website with information on this topic, which you should read before filing a trace. If you file too soon, you could really mess up the process of getting your refund:

Stolen Stimulus Checks
There’s one more big and controversial topic about missing stimulus checks. The IRS is aware that many people are missing stimulus checks that have been cashed – illegally—by an ex-spouse or partner! Or the money may have been deposited into a joint account, where one partner took all the money.

Never steal or try to cash a federal refund or stimulus payment that doesn’t belong to you, the IRS warns. With all their powers and tools, you don’t want to get on the wrong side of the IRS if your “ex” files a complaint. Give the money to the correct recipient now, so you aren’t dealing with remedies as strong as wage garnishment, property liens, or potential imprisonment.

How To Get Child Tax Credit if You Didn’t File a Tax Return
The IRS recognizes that many people who deserve those monthly child credit payments have so little income that they were not required to file a tax return. So, it has unveiled a new Non-Filer SignUp tool – designed especially to register for either the Child tax credit or the $1400 stimulus (economic impact) payment if it has not been received by a non-filer.

Or simply go to www.IRS.gov/childtaxcredit2021 for a link to the tool. Since many low income people don’t read the financial pages of the newspaper, it would be helpful to share this information and link with local community and religious organizations to reach as many qualifying people as possible.

When you consider the monumental task facing the IRS, they’re doing a pretty good job at both collecting tax money and giving out money to millions of recipients. And that’s The Savage Truth.

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