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Address changes create nightmare for millions waiting for child tax credit, stimulus, and tax refunds

Thousands of people were left waiting by the IRS as child tax credit payments went out in September. The agency’s message has not been reassuring for families banking on the monthly payments guaranteed through the American Rescue Plan.

Between stimulus checks, child tax credit payments, and tax refunds – the IRS says it’s doing ‘the best it can’ given the circumstances.

“There’s no way to get any information on any of this,” Beth White told CBS News. She isn’t wrong. In fact, the IRS has admitted that it’s doing as much as it can to stay ahead. However, the issue is ultimately one involving staff levels.

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What’s happening with 2020 tax returns?

The IRS says they have corrected more than 11 million math errors that resulted in letters being sent to millions of Americans. However, it doesn’t mean tax refunds have been deposited. “‘Tax returns are opened and processed in the order received. As the return is processed … it may be subject to manual review delaying the processing if our systems detect a possible error,” the IRS said.

More than 10 million still have to be processed.

“It’s devastating,” Emanuel Richards, a Rochester native, now living in Pittsburgh told “I’ve been waiting pretty patiently. I’m not looking for any handouts, but I would like my tax return to be processed fully.” He was one of the millions who received a math error letter from the IRS.

Turns out there was no error. “Bad luck, I guess,” Richards added. “They’re short staffed, so I get it, but it’s still tough on the families who need that money or rely on it. At this point, there’s probably a reasonable chance they don’t see their 2020 refunds in 2021 at all.”

The IRS admitted that was a possibility – as it noted that it could take upwards of 120 days to process some of the returns being evaluated due to ‘errors’.

Why were some child tax credit payments wrong

Once again, the IRS has said it’s doing the best it can, but that errors will inevitably occur. Thousands of families across the U.S. reported getting shorted hundreds, or even a thousand dollars in the most recent round of child tax credit payments. “We got $500,” Travis Mack, a 46-year-old New Mexico resident told Gannett. “We should be getting $800.”

The real confusion stems from the correct payments that preceded it. That’s been happening to thousands, and there isn’t a good answer. The IRS hasn’t been overwhelmingly helpful – giving callers mixed feedback on why it was happening.

“We got two different payments, and neither totaled the right amount,” Shelby Ampellis told She says her family had received payments of $850 in July and August. Then, when September’s payment arrived – it was for just $500. “Then the next day a $200 payment was deposited, but that still left us $50 short of where we were before.”

She her tax preparer told her that whatever the IRS didn’t send or deposit correctly throughout the year could be claimed on next year’s taxes.

Recently move? Update your address quickly so the IRS knows

Turns out the U.S. Postal Service will not always forward checks from the federal government. This includes stimulus and child tax credit payments. A major issue reported by those waiting on stimulus checks, child tax credit payments, or tax refunds has been address changes.

The IRS has even attempted to reclaim some stimulus checks because they were mailed to two addresses. Even if one check wasn’t cashed – the IRS is demanding repayment from thousands who it thinks received two checks.

That means the solution is updating your address as soon as possible after a move with the USPS.

RELATED: What’s up with tax credits? Is the IRS clamping down?

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