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Late tax refunds, stimulus money, and child tax credit payments frustrate families,

and poor communication with the IRS doesn't help.

When you promise people something and they see that others get it while they don't, it can anger them.

This sums up the sentiments of many struggling families who are still waiting for the IRS to send them their tax refunds, stimulus payments, or monthly advance child tax credit installments, or all three.

On July 15, the first batch of monthly advance child tax credit payments, worth approximately $ 15 billion, were sent to approximately 35 million families. The Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) said more than 2.2 million additional stimulus payments totaling $ 4 billion were disbursed last week under the American Rescue Plan. And nearly 4 million taxpayers who overpaid their unemployment compensation taxes have received refunds averaging $ 1,265. This is good news for families who have received their money, but it also fuels the frustration of others who are struggling and have not received their payments. A private Facebook page, created in March, has about 1,000 members who share stories of not receiving the third stimulus payment.

A nurse complains about working during the pandemic and is still waiting for coronavirus-related relief.

It's "7:09 in the morning and it's impossible to communicate," someone posted this week after trying to call the IRS.

Many of the comments recounted unsuccessful efforts to reach out to the IRS for answers.

"It's one excuse after another," wrote another Facebook user.

Lisa McGruder and her husband from Pontiac, Illinois, did not receive the July $ 750 child tax credit payment for their three children, who are 7, 8 and 10 years old. The couple suspect that an amended statement is holding things back.

And they are probably right, although no one from the IRS has told you.

The couple, like so many others, had unemployment income last year. Under the American Rescue Plan, enacted March 11, Congress removed the federal tax on unemployment benefits up to $ 10,200 for individuals and $ 20,400 for married couples filing jointly. To help taxpayers, the IRS said it would automatically refund the money to people who file their tax returns reporting unemployment income.

The IRS said there was no need for taxpayers to file an amended return unless the calculations make the taxpayer again eligible for additional federal credits and deductions not included on the original tax return.

The IRS has a large number of raw returns. As of July 17, the IRS said it had 15.6 million unprocessed individual returns.

In terms of priority, the amended returns lag behind the originally filed returns. This, in turn, can delay other payments, including child tax credit advance payments, because the IRS now has to reconcile the two returns. And while the agency has said it could use people's 2019 returns to determine eligibility for monthly child tax credit payments, once the last return has been processed - in this case, the 2020 return, that It is the one used by the IRS. If the two 2020 returns, the original and amended documents, are stuck in the processing process for further review, then the agency cannot determine the eligibility of the claimed children.

Many families can see a note that says they are not eligible or the child tax credit is pending.

“The IRS continues to work hard to process tax returns and amended returns to ensure that taxpayers receive the correct refund. For taxpayers who are in for the Advance Child Tax Credit or Economic Impact Payments after their returns or amended returns are processed, we will automatically make any additional payments, ”the agency said in a statement. "The IRS understands the importance of these payments and we appreciate the patience of taxpayers during this unprecedented period."

A reader approached on the behalf of her disabled mother, who is awaiting child tax credit payments for three children, 17, 16 and 5. The mother's amended return was filed and accepted on May 10. The IRS told him it could take 16 weeks. to process the return.

“I helped her set up the child tax credit portal, which shows that her status is 'pending' and that there were no monthly tax credit payments at this time,” the adult daughter wrote by email. "I am almost certain this is due to the amended statement."

That is part of the problem with the IRS. It is not good to tell people why there is a delay, so people are often left guessing what is wrong.

"My mother and I have spent countless hours on the phone with the Internal Revenue Service over the past two weeks, but no one has been able to provide details on how to solve this problem," the daughter wrote. “My mother could use the money very well. It seems like a lot of people are in the same boat. Either they amended their returns, or their returns have been in limbo for several months, so their child tax credit prepayment status is pending as well. "

In a recent report on how the government is responding to the pandemic, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) specifically miscommunication at the IRS.

"With many more returns currently being held for manual review than in previous years, more taxpayers are trying to obtain information on the status of their returns and refunds," the GAO report said. "However, taxpayers have had a difficult time getting updates on the status of their refunds from the IRS, either by phone or online."

The GAO also criticized the IRS website for not providing enough relevant information about the delays in processing people's returns. "Additionally, the IRS automated message on its toll-free number for individual taxpayers has not been updated to explain the delays in refunds or to include any other alerts associated with the 2021 tax filing season," the report says.

When readers approach me hoping that I know what's going on, almost the person they say they would be least concerned about if they knew why their money hasn't arrived.

The GAO is right. The Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would better serve the public if they really understood this wisdom from author William H. Whyte: "We discovered that the great enemy of communication is illusion."

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