KOKOMO — Most of us will soon be filing our 2021 taxes, but some taxpayers in Central Indiana are still dealing with unresolved tax issues.
Kokomo mother Alexis Haskett says the federal government owes her approximately $9,200 in child tax credits and stimulus money.
Haskett reached out to WRTV Investigates Kara Kenney for help in finding her money.
“I got a hold of you because my grandparents saw you helped somebody else,” said Haskett.
Haskett says she, her husband, and two small children have been struggling to make ends meet.
“We both work full time, but we had COVID hit our house twice this year,” said Haskett. “I was off both times with no pay. Same with my husband. So, we are kind of struggling."
Haskett said they have not received their child tax credits even though they got a letter from the Internal Revenue Service saying they were eligible.
"I also didn't receive the last stimulus that came out at the very beginning of the year,” said Haskett. “We received the two prior last year but the last one no we have not."
Haskett tried contacting the IRS.
“I was on hold for a very long time and then she pretty much told me I needed to keep checking the website and the website offers me no information,” said Haskett. “It's frustrating. I need to provide for my children."
When she goes to the IRS website to inquire about her stimulus payment, it says “Payment Status Not Available.”
"It's hard to know where your next meal is coming from if your bills are going to be paid if your lights are going to stay on,” said Haskett. “It's really stressful."
WRTV Investigates sent half a dozen emails to the IRS, and the agency told us they’re looking into it.
WRTV Investigates got a hold of Local Taxpayer Advocate for Indiana, Ricki Wenger.
The Taxpayer Advocate Service is a division of the IRS, but they are independent of the IRS and report directly to Congress.
Wenger told WRTV she would look into what happened with the Haskett’s money.
WRTV also Wenger what could be causing the issues.
“Every situation is different,” said Wenger. “We could have two taxpayers that describe the same situation yet the underlying issue is very different. Sometimes after a return has been filed, sometimes the IRS is not recognizing the dependent that perhaps the taxpayer has claimed or they believe they should be getting credit for. That is due to different tools the IRS uses, or different dependency statuses or maybe things have changed throughout the year. "
Wenger said if the IRS shows they did send you a payment, ask the IRS to do a tracer on it.
“That way they can reconcile it for their 2021 tax return,” said Wenger.
The National Taxpayer Advocate Service urges the IRS to improve.
“The bottom line is this: although it is understandable that the IRS is still processing returns, it needs to provide taxpayers with regular and updated information on the filing season, and, as resources allow, enhance tools to provide taxpayers with more specific information on the processing of their returns and status of their refunds,” read a September 2021 blog post. “We encourage the IRS to continue providing regular and frequent details throughout the year providing information and managing expectations for taxpayers as to the timing of the processing of their returns, payment of refunds, and challenges facing both the IRS and taxpayers for the current filing season and subsequent filing seasons. IRS’s filing season notices also need to be clear, transparent, and detailed about the adjustments it’s making to taxpayers’ returns so taxpayers can understand what’s been done, why it’s been done, and be confident that it’s accurate.”
In many ways, the IRS is drowning— in understaffing, aging computer systems, congressional mandates like new tax credits and stimulus payments, as well as a backlog of more than 10 million paper returns.
The IRS says it is working hard to get through the backlog.
Indiana taxpayers have also expressed concerns to WRTV Investigates that they’ve been unable to get through to the IRS on the phone.
The IRS received a record volume of telephone calls this tax filing season, but only 7% of callers reached an IRS representative on the accounts management lines, a taxpayer advocate report said.
On the “1040” line, the most frequently called IRS toll-free number, taxpayers placed about 85 million calls, and only 3% reached an IRS representative.
It’s not much comfort to parents like Alexis Haskett who need money and answers.
"I don't know why some have received and some haven't,” said Haskett. “I am no less worthy or more important than anybody else, but everybody should be receiving these things."
WRTV Investigates will continue to track the Haskett’s situation, and we will let you know if they get their money.
Local Taxpayer Advocate for Indiana, Ricki Wenger, said you can prepare for the upcoming tax season by creating an online account with the IRS, organizing your tax documents as you get them, and look for letters in the mail from the IRS about your child tax credits and stimulus payments.
You can contact the Local Taxpayer Advocate in Indiana at 317-685-7840 or click here.
You’ll need to fill out a form to request assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate.