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The IRS wrongly denied child tax credit payments for some families with an immigrant spouse

Samantha Alonso-Campos is still waiting for the $ 1,100 a month that the IRS told her she should expect for her four children as a prepayment of the child tax credit.

Lara García did not receive the $ 850 that she was promised for her three children.

And Jessie Alarcón, who has two children, has yet to receive the $ 550 tax credit for her family.

Under the American Rescue Plan, eligible families are entitled to monthly payments of up to $ 300 for each child ages 5 and under and up to $ 250 for each child ages 6 to 17.

Many families will be mistakenly left out of the first batch of child tax credit payments on July 15, apparently for a reason: They are "mixed status," meaning one spouse has a different citizenship or immigration status than the other. For example, one of the spouses may be a US citizen and the other legal permanent resident or green card holder. In other cases, a spouse may be undocumented but still pay taxes.

In a statement, the agency acknowledged complaints that eligible children were not receiving payments.

“The IRS knows that some taxpayers who filed tax returns with ITIN numbers did not receive payment of the July child tax credit. We have worked quickly to correct this problem and these taxpayers will begin receiving payments in August. All affected taxpayers will receive their July payment. "

This is not the first time that these families feel abandoned. When the $ 2 Trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or Cares Act, became law in March of last year, it excluded married couples filing joint returns unless both spouses had Insurance numbers. Social valid for employment or at least one of the spouses was a member. of the military.

Those first stimulus payments included up to $ 1,200 for individuals and $ 2,400 for couples, plus $ 500 for each dependent child.

Complaints from mixed-status families and community organizers resulted in a revocation of the policy, and families in which a taxpayer had a valid social security number for employment were eligible for the first round of stimulus payments, as well as for the second and third round of payments. . However, undocumented people remained ineligible for payments.

Mixed status families are eligible to receive the monthly advance payments of the child tax credit as long as everyone claiming the children as dependents has a social security number or a taxpayer personal identification number (ITIN) issued by the IRS. They will only receive if they used their Social Security number or ITIN when making payments on a 2019 or 2020 tax return, or when they entered information in the non-filers tool on Each qualifying child must have a valid social security number to work in the United States.

Many undocumented immigrants and some non-citizens are not eligible for Social Security numbers, but can obtain an ITIN, which is used to file a return and pay taxes.

"We haven't received it because there's some kind of glitch in the IRS system, I guess," said Alonso-Campos, who is a US citizen. She lives in Woodbridge, Va., With her Mexican-born husband, who is in the process of obtaining a green card, and four children, ages 12, 6, 5 and 2. "They are saying that we are not eligible."

It is not clear how many families have been affected by this technical problem. Alarcón, who helps moderate the Facebook group Mixed Status Families United, said he has heard from more than 400 families who have not received payments.

“We organized the group to start calling the IRS and calling our congressmen. That's when we discovered that our accounts were flagged because we have an ITIN holder, ”said Alarcón, who lives in Madison, Wisconsin. Your Mexican-born husband is a lawful permanent resident. “We are getting very frustrated. "Getting this money for us means not having to go to the food pantry to buy our food."

Families have flooded social media platforms to complain about late child tax credit payments.

"I am a US citizen by birth," said Garcia, who lives in Annapolis. “My husband is from El Salvador, but we met all the eligibility requirements, so I never thought twice. It wasn't like the first stimulus payment where I didn't realize we weren't getting it because of the mixed status issue. But all indications were that mixed-status families were ready to go. I was hoping that extra money would arrive by July. So I've planned accordingly, trying to catch up on everything from last year."

If the problem is resolved before the end of the year, the IRS says, families will receive the late payments. Recovery payments will be spread over the remaining months.

Let's say a couple qualifies for a monthly payment of $ 1,000 from July to December for their children totaling $ 6,000. If the IRS can fix the program in time for the August 13 payment disbursement, the new monthly amount would be $ 1,200, because the payments now cover only five months. If the IRS cannot correct the problem before the end of the year, parents will have to claim the child tax credit when they file their 2021 return next year.

Families hope that the money will arrive soon.

"I'm not working right now," Alonso-Campos said. “I had to quit my job due to lack of childcare. We barely made it. I don't even know how I'm going to be able to pay the rent."

Like so many other families, Garcia said she and her husband, who is in the process of obtaining a green card, were already working hard to make ends meet in the run-up to the pandemic. That's why this latest payment glitch is so painful.

“Last year, my husband was out of work for about three months, so we were very behind on our bills,” Garcia said. "We're just trying to catch up and get out of the hole and give our kids a semblance of normalcy."

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