On Sept. 15, millions of families received the third advance child tax credit payment automatically from the IRS.
But others who got their July and August payments without a problem have yet to get their money.
Sarene Leeds, 44, is one such parent. The freelance writer in White Plains, New York, was expecting to get $300 in September for her 5-year-old daughter. Leeds got the first payment in July via direct deposit and a paper check for August.
That struck her as odd, as she'd signed up for direct deposit and the IRS portal lists that as her preferred method of delivery, so she didn't inquire further.
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"As long as I get the money, I'm not going to raise a fuss over whether or not it's wired direct deposit," she said.
But days after the September deadline, she still doesn't have the payment or know if it's coming. The IRS Update Portal shows that she's eligible for the money, but that no payment has been processed for September to track (if, for example, she were issued another paper check that was simply delayed in the mail.)
Leeds has tried calling the IRS but has been unable to get through, she said.
"We are relying on these payments," she said, adding that her husband, a musician, lost work during the pandemic. "And, they've been promised to us.
"It's definitely a matter of principle."
The American Rescue Plan in March expanded the existing child tax credit, adding advance monthly payments and increasing the benefit to $3,000 from $2,000, with a $600 bonus for kids under the age of 6 for the 2021 tax year.
The first half of the credit is being delivered in monthly direct deposits, from July through December, of $300 for children under 6 and $250 for those aged 6 to 17. The second half will come when families file their 2021 tax returns next year.
The IRS acknowledged the issue with the September payments in a short statement over the weekend.
"The IRS is currently looking into this situation, and we will share more information as soon as possible," the agency said.
The IRS also said that some 35 million Americans did receive a total of $15 billion in September. The agency did not respond to requests for comment.
What happens next
It isn't clear what happens next for eligible families that didn't get the September payment. The IRS could potentially send it out late, or send impacted families larger monthly payments through the end of the year.
Joseph Kaye, 52, was able to talk with an IRS customer service representative after not getting the $250 September payment for his 10-year-old daughter. He also checked the IRS Update Portal and saw that while he's still eligible, no September check had been processed. Kaye also noticed other families having similar issues on Twitter.
The IRS representative didn't have much to share on what happens next, Kaye said. "It sounded like she was reading from a script," he said.
While frustrating, Kaye, who works in internet marketing in the Dallas/Fort Worth-area, said his family will be okay with getting the money later — it's mostly being used to pay for extracurriculars like tae kwon do lessons for his daughter.
But he worries that such issues may hinder the program in the future.
"I am 100% a believe in this type of thing," he said. "And to have it roll out in kind of a shaky way is disappointing."
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