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IRS Finally Tries to Get Missing Child Stimulus Payments to Families Who Need Them

A bureaucratic screw-up meant many parents didn't receive their full CARES Act stimulus.

It’s been nearly five months since President Trump signed the CARES Act into law, but the government still hasn’t paid out everything it owes. Unfortunately but unsurprisingly, the people who haven’t received their full stimulus payment are among those who need it the most.

Every parent was supposed to receive $500 per dependent child, but many non-filers — those who don’t make enough income to pay taxes — received checks without those payments. Here’s what happened, and what the agency is belatedly doing about it.

Payments were calculated based on tax return information, so the IRS needed another way to obtain the information needed to pay non-filers. Those not receiving government benefits used an online tool to input their information, but those receiving Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Railroad Retirement benefits, and VA Compensation and Pension benefits were told not to use it because the IRS would coordinate with the relative agencies to get the necessary information.

Unfortunately, it seems that whether or not these non-filers had children wasn’t always part of the information it collected, so many non-filers who receive government benefits didn’t receive the dependent child credits.

In an attempt to rectify the situation, on August 15 the IRS opened the online tool up to non-filers who are also federal benefits recipients. They have until September 30 to input their dependent children information on the site. Presumably, checks will be mailed out shortly thereafter.

It’s discouraging after so much talk of a second stimulus — including a $3 trillion bill passed by the Democratic House in May and, remarkably for the party of austerity, public openness to another stimulus payment from the GOP — to find that many of the parents who need it most have yet to receive their full first payment.