An unexpected letter in the mail from the IRS isn’t always a good sign, but more than 9 million Americans are about to get some good news from the tax agency.
The Internal Revenue Service is sending letters to millions who did not claim stimulus payments, earned income tax credits, child tax credits, or other benefits.
That money can go unclaimed when people with very little or no income, who aren’t required to pay taxes, don’t file a simplified tax return. That form is required in order to get a stimulus check.
The Hill reported last week it’s estimated somewhere between 9 million and 10 million Americans could be missing out on the government benefits.
It’s not just COVID-19 stimulus checks being left on the table. Some families are missing out on the expanded child tax credit, leaving up to $3,600 per child unclaimed.
“Throughout the pandemic, IRS and Treasury struggled to get COVID-relief payments into the hands of some people — especially those with lower-incomes, limited internet access, or experiencing homelessness,” the Government Accountability Office, an internal government watchdog, said.
In addition to people not required to pay taxes, the GAO believes people experiencing homelessness, as well as families with mixed immigration status, were likely to have missed out on stimulus payments, despite being eligible.
“So they’re looking at their database and saying, these people didn’t file an income tax return but we have reason to believe they might get a refund if they would, either stimulus money, child tax credit, earned income tax credit,” said Patrick Kelly, a C.P.A. in Joplin, Missouri. “So the IRS is looking at the database and saying, they didn’t file, we’re not sure they’re entitled to a refund, but they think they probably are.”
The reminder letters will be arriving over the next few weeks, and will be printed in both English and Spanish.
In order to get owed benefits, affected people will need to file a 2021 federal income tax return, IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig told the Associated Press.