IRS understaffing delays child tax credit refunds for PR families
By The Star Staff
Because of understaffing problems, it will take time for the IRS to process requests for child tax credits, whose deadline is November 17.
Since April of this year, Jaime (not his real name), who is a university professor, has been waiting for the child tax credit for his children ages 14 and 11 so he can use the money to pay a local tax debt.
The professor, who did not wish his name to be used, said he is entitled to a $6,000 refund resulting from the credit. He said he wants to use the funding to pay a tax debt to the Treasury Department that he has been paying through a payment plan. He said he sent the form through his accountant in the last week of March to the IRS office in Austin Texas.
He has contacted the IRS offices but is told that understaffing is causing delays in refunds.
“They say they are understaffed, they want people to file under deadlines but they can’t do the same to hasten tax returns,” he told the STAR.
Gloria (not her real name) is also seeking child tax credit for a 10-year old daughter that she also requested early in the year and has been unlucky.
Both filed the requests using paper and not electronically.
Puerto Rico became eligible for the Child Tax Credit under the same terms as the states under the American Rescue Act Plan. The benefit gives a credit of $3,000 for each child ages 6 to 17 and $3,600 for children under age 6.
In 2021, 97% of all children in Puerto Rico were eligible for this credit.
Governor Pierluisi, however, recently called upon families to apply for the child tax credi estimating that there were 75,000 families who are eligible but have not yet filed. Families still have until November 17 to file.
There are government programs to help residents file, including online assistance available at reclamatudineropr.com.
Gloria and Jaime are among the 220,000 Puerto Rican families that requested the credit for the year 2021 and have not received it yet.
In response to a STAR question, an IRS official said that recently that the IRS generally processes refunds in 21 days but that often it takes more.
If you’re filing child tax return refund, it’s best to file electronically, instead of by paper as it acknowledged that those who filed on paper continue to wait for refunds.
Due to issues related to the pandemic and staffing limitations, the IRS began 2022 with a larger than usual inventory of paper tax returns and correspondence filed during 2021.
As of June 10, the IRS had processed more than 4.5 million of the more than 4.7 million individual paper tax returns received in 2021. The IRS has also successfully processed the vast majority of tax returns filed this year: More than 143 million returns have been processed overall, with almost 98 million refunds worth more than $298 billion being issued, the IRS said.
To work to address the unprocessed inventory by the end of this year, the IRS said it has taken aggressive, unprecedented steps to accelerate processing work while maintaining accuracy. This effort included significant, ongoing overtime for staff throughout 2022, creating special teams of employees focused solely on processing aged inventory, and expediting hiring of thousands of new workers and contractors to help with this ongoing effort.
The agency, however, could not provide information as to when it will complete the refunds.