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Glitches mark launch of child tax credit payments

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The Internal Revenue Service building in Washington, D.C.

The overworked IRS is grappling with the disbursement of child tax credit payments, reporter Chabeli Carrazana says. Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

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It’s now been more than a week since most families across the country began receiving the advance child tax credit. It’s a monthly deposit of up to $250-$300 per child. 

The deposits extend through the end of this year. The money is a lifeline for many parents, but there are some who don’t want the cash advance for fear it’ll add to their tax burden.

Scores of parents trying to opt-out of the advance credit are being stymied by the IRS website or by a third-party site that verifies driver’s licenses and personal information. Others are seeing more or less than they expected in their bank accounts. Some economists have said the IRS was already overwhelmed before it took on the task of disbursing the payments. 

Ask Allyson Dennen, a financial counselor in Arizona, how the program is going.

“I think that it’s a mess. That’s how I think it’s going,” she said.

Dennen thinks the payments are a great idea, but she’s seen glitches galore. One client mistakenly got two deposits.  

“So they’re like, ‘What do I do with it? How can I send it back?’ and they can’t even get in touch with anyone at the IRS because they’re so overworked right now,” she said.

The IRS already had a backlog of tax returns while figuring out this new program. 

Parents who don’t want this advance credit might owe taxes and don’t want to have to pay the cash back — like Courtney Maynard in California.

“Our taxes are such that it’s going to be most likely to our detriment,” she said.

The IRS has added new digital tools to help taxpayers navigate the process. Still, Maynard said she’s tried to opt out four times. 

“I tried on different devices, tried with different browsers. It’s not working,” she said.

But the IRS is not set up to manage benefits, said Erica York, an economist at the Tax Foundation.

“So that, you know, expands their scope, from just collecting revenue to also administering these different tax credit programs,” she said.

York said she personally tried to opt-out twice before giving up. 

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