Child tax credit money arrives, but some parents say IRS shorted them and 'it makes no sense why'

·6 min read

Corrections & Clarifications: An earlier version of this story misstated the amounts of child tax credit payments.

After eight days of delay, some families said they finally began seeing money for the Sept. 15 payment of the child tax credit on Friday. But not everyone got their money Friday, and, oddly enough, some are complaining that the IRS shorted them this time around.

"We got $500. We should be getting $800," said Travis Mack, 46, who lives in Essex, New Mexico.

The family has three children who are ages 8, 7 and 4.

Mack is happy he finally sees some money to cover the children's clothes, the family's groceries and other bills, but he's perplexed about why the payment is short of what was received in July and August.

The family didn't receive the September payment on time and he wasn't sure what had happened.

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Early Friday afternoon, he finally received a partial payment. He said it amounted to the $250 for the two older children but nothing for the youngest, who he said should be getting $300.

Mack, who works in the oil and gas industry, said his wife's income dropped by about $2,000 to $2,500 a month once the pandemic hit last year and she had to stop working in retail to home-school their children.

"We were able to make it by, but it did put a strain on us all that time," he said.

The Sept. 15 monthly payout for the advance child tax credit didn't arrived as scheduled for a sizable group of families. They waited for the money – and any answers from the Internal Revenue Service.

The IRS has not given a number for how many families haven't received their monthly tax credit payment for September or why. But the number appears to be significant, given the level of complaints on social media platforms and emails to the Detroit Free Press, part of the USA TODAY Network and others.

Sharon Bayn (right), 62, of Detroit talks with Congress of Communities parent advocate Cristian Aranda (left) outside Bayn's home on Junction Avenue in the Southwest Detroit neighborhood on Thursday, August 26, 2021. Bayn said she planned to call a number on the handout to figure out how to receive the child tax credit for her 15-year-old grandson that she has custody of.
Sharon Bayn (right), 62, of Detroit talks with Congress of Communities parent advocate Cristian Aranda (left) outside Bayn's home on Junction Avenue in the Southwest Detroit neighborhood on Thursday, August 26, 2021. Bayn said she planned to call a number on the handout to figure out how to receive the child tax credit for her 15-year-old grandson that she has custody of.

Millions of people did receive their advance child tax credit on Sept. 15, but somehow a glitch caught others in a strange trap.

Many, like Mack, say they had received the advance monthly payments in July and August and then nothing for September.

Mack noted that the family was caught in another glitch in August.

The August payment, then scheduled for Aug. 13, was delayed for more than 4 million people who ended up receiving checks for their August advance child tax credit instead of direct deposit as it took place in July.

After receiving the August payment by mail, Mack went online at IRS.gov as was suggested to verify that his direct deposit information was correct.

Shavaun Tringali, 38, said she too finally received money early Friday but her payment was short by $100. The Roseville, Michigan, mother had expected to receive $250 for her 15-year-old daughter Chloe Fink.

"Got shorted!" Tringali emailed me. "And it makes no sense why!"

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Earlier this week, many families who didn't receive the money expressed a great deal of concern about the hold-up.

I heard from a grandmother in Tennessee who said the money is needed, given the pandemic and an outbreak of COVID-19 in her family.

"We were expecting this money to help us through the month, but much to our surprise it never showed up in our bank the way the first two did," said Crystal Redmer of Tennessee.

"Best part is that when we try to check it in the portal it does say eligible and shows July's and August's payments, but nothing shows for September," she said Tuesday.

A father of a family of five also said their phone service was now off because they thought they could use the Sept. 15 money to cover the bills.

Some parents said they had no trouble in the two earlier months but then they adjusted the address or direct deposit information using the tool at the IRS.gov and they ran into issues for the September payment.

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Parents, of course, are looking at a host of bills that households without children aren't facing. School clothes, extra fees for outside activities, the high cost of healthy meals, day care, college expenses.

Late Sept. 17, the IRS said: "We are aware of instances where some individuals have not yet received their September payments, although they received payments in July and August."

The IRS continued then: "These individuals may not yet be able to receive a current status on the IRS.gov Update Portal. The IRS is currently looking into this situation, and we will share more information as soon as possible."

The American Rescue Plan, which went into law in March, expanded the child tax credit and offered a new monthly advance payment that the IRS was mandated to issue from July through December.

The next monthly payments are scheduled for Oct. 15, Nov. 15 and Dec. 15.

What's unsettling is when you expect money to arrive and it doesn't.

While the IRS has a host of challenges – including staffing shortages – families end up facing a real financial squeeze when the system leaves them hanging.

Many people receiving the credit are working, though some who have no income also do qualify. Rising costs of food, gasoline and other expenses only put more pressure on household budgets.

A job that pays $15 an hour still only adds up to around $600 a week before taxes – or $31,200 a year – if you can get 40 hours of work each week for a year.

Working families will get the full credit if they make up to $150,000 for a couple or up to $112,500 for a family with a single parent (also called Head of Household).

Most families are automatically receiving monthly payments of $300 for children through age 5 or $250 each for older children without having to take any action.

Under the American Rescue Plan, the maximum child tax credit rose to $3,000 from $2,000 per child for children over the age of 6 and it rose to $3,600 from $2,000 for children under the age of 6. The age limit went up to 17 from 16 to cover more teens.

Only half of the credit will be paid out in monthly installments in 2021. The rest will be made available when families file their 2021 income tax returns in 2022.

Contact Susan Tompor via stompor@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @tompor.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: September child tax credit money arrives but some say IRS shorted them

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