Meet a Wisconsin mom waiting on nearly $6,000 the IRS owes from her 2020 return and child tax credits: ‘The worst thing about this is that there’s no communication’

Rachel Cannistraro.

Rachel Cannistraro, 40, is an accountant and mother of three in Wisconsin.
She’s still waiting on her 2020 tax refund after submitting an amended return in March 2021.
That means she hasn’t received the child-tax-credit checks Biden started sending parents in July.

Soon, millions of Americans will sit down to file their taxes, poring over 2021’s W-2s, 1099s, and donations. 

But Rachel Cannistraro is still stuck in 2020.

That’s because the 40-year-old Wisconsin-based accountant hasn’t received her amended return from last year. She filed it on March 28, 2021. The IRS still hasn’t processed it. 

For Cannistraro, a mother of three, that also means she didn’t get the advanced child-tax-credit checks that started going out monthly to parents last summer. While she’ll still get that money when she files her return this year, “having the additional $300 a month in advance would’ve been helpful to us.” Her youngest son is severely disabled and does a lot of physical therapy, not all of which is covered by Medicaid. She’s had to use credit cards and dip into her savings to cover those bills.

All told, with the advanced child tax credit and the refund combined, Cannistraro said she’s waiting on approximately $6,000.

Cannistraro said she and her husband are fortunate enough to have good jobs. “I know that there are many other families that go through something very similar to this, that this is a big deal — not having a thousand dollars to them could mean not having food.”

Cannistraro isn’t alone: Erin Collins — the national taxpayer advocate, a position that’s known as the “voice of the taxpayer” within the IRS — said that the agency is “in crisis.” As of mid-December, according to Collins’ annual report, the IRS had 6.2 million unprocessed returns. Both Collins and Treasury officials pointed to historical underfunding of the agency as the underlying issue resulting in backlogs. In the last decade, the IRS’s budget has declined by over 20%, according to the Tax Policy Center

“The government has stripped the IRS of so much funding over the years,” Cannistraro said. “Folks are out here waiting for the money that is due to them, and on top of the fact that they’re not getting the money that’s due to them, they’re also not going to be compensated for the fact that they had to wait so long.”

‘The worst thing about this is that there’s no communication from the IRS’

Cannistraro has always done the family’s taxes and never had any issues. But, as she said, “2020 was kind of a crazy year.” Last year, some additional information — standard mortgage and charitable deductions — came in after she filed initially. So for the first time, she had to file an amended return.

She said that the IRS’s website said it would take at least 16 weeks for an amended return to show up. So she marked that approximate date — about mid-July — in her calendar.

When it still hadn’t come, she called a number on the IRS website for help.

“It would ring and ring and then it would say, Oh, we have high call volume. You’re just gonna have to call back later, and it would hang up.”

She couldn’t leave a voicemail. She tried contacting the agency on social media. Finally, in October, Cannistraro reached out to her senator and congressman.

She spoke to Congressman Mark Pocan’s office, who said several others had reached out with similar issues. In mid-December, they were finally able to get her some answers: The processing issue stemmed from the fact that Cannistraro hadn’t received the latest stimulus check to include as part of her initial return. That check came a week after she filed, she said. 

“Somewhere between me filing the amended return and them investigating the fact that I had received stimulus or not caused some sort of processing issue, and that caused them to not process my amended return,” Cannistraro said.

She gave her congressman’s office the requested paperwork so they could hand it off to the IRS for processing. Cannistraro said she’s “heard nothing else since” from the IRS.

“The worst thing about this is that there’s no communication from the IRS. We’re not getting letters, no phone calls. If you try to call them, no one’s answering the phone,” Cannistraro said.

‘I shouldn’t have to get my congressman involved in my taxes’

Cannistraro noted that, across the country, workers are leaving their jobs in droves in search of better-paying or more flexible work

With the budget cuts that the IRS has faced, “you’re not gonna get quality employees if you’re not gonna have the budget to pay them,” she said.

But in the meantime, Cannistraro is still waiting on her return, as are millions of others. That money will go toward paying off credit-card debt (and the interest payments) she racked up from medical bills, and if there’s any left over, she’ll spend it on extra therapy toys for her son.

“Folks are out here waiting for the money that is due to them — and, on top of the fact that they’re not getting the money that’s due to them, they’re also not going to be compensated for the fact that they had to wait so long,” Cannistraro said.

When someone is late with a tax payment to the IRS, they owe penalties and fees. But as a taxpayer owed money, Cannistraro said she won’t get any interest or fees for having her payment withheld over the processing delay — something she thinks should be corrected in policy.

“I should have gotten a letter from the IRS back in July that said, ‘Something’s amiss about this, call this number with this case and let’s talk about it,’ instead of me having to call my congressman,” she said. “I shouldn’t have to get my congressman involved in my taxes. They have bigger things to be dealing with.”

Are you still waiting on a return? Do you depend on your refund? Contact this reporter at jkaplan@insider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Economy, Markets, Politics, Economy, IRS, IRS payments, Tax refund, Tax Returns, Tax Return, Child tax credit, child tax credit expansion

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