News on stimulus payments, child tax credit and refunds

child tax credit and refunds

The IRS has been the busiest agency of government for the past 18 months. To say the agency is multitasking is an understatement. Not only is it collecting taxes but it is also sending money out to millions of Americans!

The IRS is just about finished sending out refunds on 2019 tax returns filed last July. It sent out $600 stimulus payments in January, and is still sending those $1,400 stimulus payments to millions of Americans.

The IRS is about to start sending out monthly child credit benefit checks to millions of families starting July 15. Most parents of children under 6 at year-end 2021 get $300 per month; most parents of children aged 6 to 17 receive $250 per month. Parents must have single income under $75,000 or joint income under $150,000 to qualify. (See more details below.)

Finally, the IRS is refunding taxes paid on the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits. As well, it is sending out “PlusUp” payments to those who received less than the full $1,400 rebate (based on 2019 returns) and qualified for more stimulus based on 2020 returns. That means they must compare income on both year’s returns.

Where’s My Refund

If you haven’t received your 2020 refund, be patient. The online tool at is not always helpful, even in letting you know that your return has been received. That’s why you should always mail paper returns and quarterly estimates using certified mail, with return receipt requested.

Those who filed electronically and included direct deposit information should have received most refund checks already. But some are delayed as the IRS reviews returns for various reasons.

The good news is that if your refund is delayed, the IRS will pay 3% interest back to April. That’s more than you can get in a bank safely, for sure!

Lost Stimulus Payments

Those $1,400 stimulus payments are still going out. But many people are worried that their payment went astray. (You should have claimed missing earlier payments of $1,200 and $600 on your 2020 tax return.) Eventually, you can get that $1,400 as a credit on your 2021 return when you file next April. But that’s a long time to wait!

Go to the agency’s “Get My Payment” tool at It will show whether a payment has been issued. If you had entered direct deposit information, give at least five business days for the money to land in your account. And if it didn’t arrive in your account, check first with your bank. If the check was mailed to you, give it at least four weeks from the date of issuance to arrive at your home.

If the website shows the payment was sent and you didn’t get it, you can either call 800-919-9835 or download IRS Form 3911 and mail or fax it to the IRS to start a payment trace.

The IRS website has a helpful page with links to information on this topic, which you should read before filing a trace. If you file too soon, you could really mess up the process of getting your refund:

Stolen Stimulus Checks

The IRS is aware that many people are missing stimulus checks that have been cashed — illegally — by an ex-spouse or partner! Or the money may have been deposited into a joint account, and then one partner took all the money.

Never steal or try to cash a federal refund or stimulus payment that doesn’t belong to you, the IRS warns. With all their powers and tools, you don’t want to get on the wrong side of the IRS if your ex-spouse files a complaint. That could result in remedies as strong as wage garnishment, property liens and imprisonment.

How to Get Child Tax Credit if You Didn’t File a Tax Return

The IRS recognizes that many people who deserve those monthly child credit payments have so little income that they were not required to file a tax return. So it has unveiled a new non-filer sign-up tool so non-filers can get the payments.

Go to to reach the non-filer signup tool. It would be helpful to share this information and link with local community and religious organizations to reach as many qualifying, low-income people as possible.

When you consider the monumental task facing the IRS, it’s doing a pretty good job at both collecting tax money and giving out money to millions of recipients.