IRS sending letters to millions of families that may be owed money after recent audit

ByTami Luhby, CNN, CNNWire
Thursday, October 27, 2022
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The IRS failed to send $3.7 billion in monthly child tax credit payments to 4.1 million eligible taxpayers last year, according to a recent audit

The IRS is trying to return money to millions of people!

The Internal Revenue Service failed to send $3.7 billion in monthly child tax credit payments to 4.1 million eligible taxpayers last year, according to an audit released Tuesday by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

At the same time, the IRS sent more than $1.1 billion to 1.5 million taxpayers who should not have received the monthly installments, the audit found.

Even before it sent any payments last year, the IRS repeatedly said that launching a new program to deliver the monthly payments to tens of millions of families would be a challenge, CNN reported.

The payments stemmed from a temporary enhancement to the child tax credit that Congress enacted as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act that passed in March 2021. The credit was beefed up to $3,600 for each child up to age 6 and $3,000 for each one ages 6 through 17 for lower- and middle-income families for one year. Also, more low-income parents became eligible for the full amount because lawmakers made it fully refundable.

Plus, for the first time, half the credit was paid in monthly installments from July through December, while parents could claim the other half when they filed their 2021 taxes this year.

RELATED: Child tax credit 2021: American parents could owe money after monthly payments conclude

The IRS had only four months to set up the system to send payments to parents. As of December, the agency had issued nearly 217 million payments totaling $93.5 billion.

The inspector general's review covered nearly 179 million payments made between July and November 2021, totaling more than $76.7 billion. It also found some errors associated with incorrect bank account information.

Setting up the monthly payment system in such a short period of time was a "significant undertaking," the inspector general's office said. The vast majority of payments were made correctly.

Incorrect payments were typically corrected when taxpayers filed their 2021 returns this year. The IRS sent families a reconciliation letter, as required by legislation, that identified how much they received in monthly installments, which they needed to use when preparing their returns.

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The inspector general's office plans to continue monitoring the reversals of the incorrect payments.

The agency said it is sending letters to more than 9 million individuals, and families who did not file 2021 returns. That's because they may qualify for tax benefits and even a possible refund, especially if they qualify for the child tax credit.

The special reminder letters are being sent in the coming days, in both English and Spanish.

The inspector general's office made several recommendations to the IRS, including the need to take action to prevent taxpayers from receiving additional improper payments, inform taxpayers that their installments may have been sent to other accounts that they may own and to validate incoming files from third-party sources prior to their use.

The IRS agreed with the recommendations, according to the audit.

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ABC7 Chicago contributed to this post.