Monday, October 11, 2021

US agency sends out ill-fated checks to children of US parents

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Ooh, federal tax dollars looking much brighter in a photo than it did some months ago.

The US Internal Revenue Service should probably send you an apology letter if it thinks it can do without your data, but it just did.

On Friday, it began sending out checks to parents who had been waiting over five months to be reimbursed from the Child Tax Credit.

“We know some people have been waiting a long time to get this refund money,” said IRS spokesperson Joanna Lins.

And some who got it promptly said the IRS took it the wrong way. It handed checks to their children, who aren’t US citizens, without their parents’ knowledge.

Patricia Clarkson, who lives in Macon, Ga., was notified that she would get a refund check for her sons in Michigan. A closer look at the IRS website showed she was owed a $4,000 refund. She mailed it right away.

And she said it was $4,000 that their money’s value would have been had it remained in her possession.

“I’m speechless and shocked,” Clarkson said. “They can send a check directly to my kids, who are US citizens, but they don’t want to send a check directly to me?”

Clarkson said the family considered filing a lawsuit over the way she was treated.

“As a parent, to have your tax dollars taken from your family is unbelievable and unconscionable,” she said.

The IRS and the Michigan Department of Education, the Department of Social Services and the Department of Human Services were apparently made aware of the problem.

Lins, the IRS spokesperson, said that families were allowed to transfer children’s money into an account where the parents would have control. But the IRS says it was overwhelmed by an unexpectedly high demand and missed some requests from the families.

So far, 399,000 families have been reimbursed. A website link called “IRS Error: Visiting the Site?” (http://www.irs.gov/help/confusing-issues-your-child-tax-credit-account-affordability/) is credited with setting this all in motion.

Clarkson said that the long wait, as well as the lack of communication from the government has left her with a lot of resentment.

“It makes no sense why they would treat the mother and father who did nothing wrong this way,” she said.

The IRS suggested it could be a computer glitch, saying that communication with the families was delayed because of the “investigation.”

But, the spokesperson said, the taxes were real, the checks were coming and they wanted to make sure all of the money went to the correct people.

“We wanted to ensure that everybody who received an inaccurate payment went back and corrected it immediately,” Lins said.

The IRS said the checks were finally being mailed out this weekend.

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