Some individuals are not receiving the $500 per qualifying dependent child stimulus check benefits … [+]
Spoiler alert: You may not like the answer.
Was your stimulus check the wrong amount?
130 million Americans have received stimulus checks so far, according to the Treasury Department, providing a much needed cash infusion to individuals struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While many have received the correct stimulus amount, some have reported receiving payments that were either too high or too low. One of the most common cases appears to be parents who did not receive $500 payments for each qualifying dependent child, despite filing a 2018 or 2019 tax return claiming children.
If your stimulus payment was higher than expected, then you won the stimulus lottery as the IRS has said that, in most cases, it will not require Americans to return the money; however, if your stimulus payment was too low, you may be wondering how to claim the extra funds.
What’s The IRS’ Answer?
The IRS has finally chimed in, updating the Frequently Asked Questions section on its website earlier this week. In short, you’ll have to wait until at least the end of January, 2021 to claim the rest the additional amount, when you file your 2020 taxes. “This is particularly important for individuals who may be entitled to the additional $500 per qualifying child dependent payments,” said the IRS website. It also includes a clarification “for VA and SSI recipients who don’t have a filing requirement and have a child, they need to use the Non-Filers tool on IRS.gov by May 5 in order to have the $500 added automatically to their $1,200 Economic Impact payment” (More specific detail on non-filers with dependents can be found in this Forbes article).
The IRS is telling filers who didn’t receive $500 per qualifying child dependent payments to wait … [+]
Shahar Ziv – IRS Website
Is This Really The Best The Government Could Do?
With over 30 million Americans filing for unemployment, many are in dire need of immediate financial assistance. Telling individuals to wait until they file next year’s taxes equates to a nine month delay to get the additional funds to which they are entitled. This is a sub-optimal response to a critical problem.
Imagine calling the fire department when your house was on fire and being told, “hang in there, we’ll send firefighters over in early 2021.” Even this is a stretch, given that you cannot actually speak to someone at the IRS. The IRS has shuttered its support centers and includes a straightforward message on its economic impact payment website: “Please DO NOT call the IRS.”
Others have highlighted the impact of missing dependent payments, including an account of a Virginia widow and mother of three who was missing $1,500 in stimulus payments for three children, all under the age of 16. The widow is currently unemployed and hoped to use the $1,500 to buy groceries for her family. “Because [the IRS] system was flawed, we are punished for it, and there is no way to give us relief for a whole year,” she said.
There have been a lot of reported issues with the disbursement of stimulus checks, including payments being sent to dead people and getting an error message on the IRS’ “Get My Payment” tool, but depriving struggling Americans of stimulus funds for close to a year ranks among the worst.
“Five hundred dollars is a lot of money and could provide a lot of emotional and financial relief,” Jessica Bartholow, policy advocate with Western Center on Law & Poverty in California, said. “Right now is a moment in which we have to believe in government and we have to believe that it can work. So as disappointing as all of this is, I also really still believe in the IRS to do the right thing, to find a way to get these families the $500 per child as soon as possible.” Let’s hope she’s right.
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