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The IRS erroneously rejected child tax credit payments for some families with an immigrant spouse

Some are complaining about an IRS glitch that delayed the first advance payments for their children

(iStock/The Washington Post)

Samantha Alonso-Campos is still waiting for the $1,100 a month the IRS told her she should expect for her four children as an advance child tax credit payment.

Lara Garcia didn’t get the $850 she was promised for her three children.

And Jessie Alarcon, who has two children, has yet to receive the $550 tax credit for her family.

Under the American Rescue Plan, eligible families are entitled to monthly payments of up to $300 for each child 5 and under and up to $250 for each child 6 to 17.

The next child tax credit payment date is Aug. 13. Here are some key things you should know.

Many families were erroneously left out of the first batch of child tax credit payments on July 15, apparently for one reason: They are “mixed status,” meaning that one spouse has a different citizenship or immigration status than the other. For example, one spouse may be a U.S. citizen, the other a legal permanent resident or green-card holder. In other cases, a spouse might be undocumented but still paying taxes.

In a statement, the agency acknowledged the complaints that eligible children were not receiving payments.

“The IRS is aware some taxpayers who filed tax returns with ITIN numbers did not receive their child tax credit payment for July. We have worked expeditiously to correct this issue and these taxpayers will start receiving payments in August. All impacted taxpayers will receive their July payment."

This isn’t the first time these families have felt neglected. When the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or Cares Act, became law in March of last year, it excluded married couples filing joint returns unless both spouses had Social Security numbers valid for employment or at least one spouse was a member of the military.

Those first stimulus payments included up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for couples, plus $500 for each dependent child.

Complaints from mixed-status families and community organizers resulted in a policy reversal, and families in which one taxpayer had a Social Security number valid for employment were made eligible for the first round of stimulus payments, as well as the second and third rounds of payments. However, undocumented people remained ineligible for payments.

Late tax refunds, stimulus money and child tax credit payments frustrate families, and poor IRS communication isn’t helping

Mixed-status families are eligible to receive the monthly advance child tax credit payments as long as everyone claiming the children as dependents has a Social Security number or an IRS-issued Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). They will receive the payments only if they used their Social Security number or ITIN when they filed a 2019 or 2020 tax return, or when they entered information into the non-filer tool on Each qualifying child has to have a Social Security number that is valid for employment in the United States.

Many undocumented immigrants and some noncitizens aren’t eligible for Social Security numbers, but they can get a ITIN, which is used to file a return and pay taxes.

“We haven’t received it because there’s some kind of glitch in the IRS system, I guess,” said Alonso-Campos, who is a U.S. citizen. She lives in Woodbridge, Va., with her Mexican-born husband, who is in the process of getting a green card, and four children, ages 12, 6, 5 and 2. “They’re saying that we’re not eligible for it on the website, even though I received an IRS letter stating that I would be eligible for it.”

It’s unclear how many families have been affected by this glitch. Alarcon, who helps moderate the Facebook group Mixed Status Families United, said that she has heard from more than 400 families who haven’t received the payments.

“We organized the group to start calling the IRS and calling our congressmen. That’s when we found out that our accounts were flagged because we have an ITIN holder,” said Alarcon, who lives in Madison, Wis. Her Mexican-born husband is a legal permanent resident. “We’re getting super frustrated. Getting this money for us means not having to go to the food pantry for our groceries.”

Families have flooded social media platforms to complain about the late child tax credit payments.

“I’m a U.S. citizen by birth,” said Garcia, who lives in Annapolis. “My husband is from El Salvador, but we met all the eligibility requirements so I never really thought twice about it. It wasn’t like the first stimulus payment where I didn’t realize we weren’t getting it because of the mixed-status issue. But everything indicated that mixed-status families were good to go. I had been expecting come July, that extra money was going to be there. So I’ve planned accordingly, trying to catch up with everything from last year.”

The child tax credit is confusing for divorced, single and nontraditional parents. Here’s who gets to keep the money.

If the issue is resolved before the end of the year, the IRS says, families will receive the missed payments. The catch-up payments will be spread out over whatever remaining months are left.

Let’s say a couple qualifies for a $1,000 monthly payment from July to December for their children for a total of $6,000. If the IRS is able to fix the program in time for the Aug. 13 payment disbursement, the new monthly amount would be $1,200, because the payments now cover just five months. If the IRS isn’t able to correct the problem before the end of the year, parents will have to claim the child tax credit when they file their 2021 return next year.

Families are hoping the money comes soon.

“I’m not working right now,” Alonso-Campos said. “I had to resign from my job due to a lack of child care. We’re barely making it. I don’t even know how I’m going to be able to pay on my rent.”

Does my newborn qualify? Get answers to questions about the child tax credit.

Like so many other families, Garcia said she and her husband, who is in the process of getting a green card, were already working hard to make ends meet before the pandemic. That’s why this latest glitch in payments is so painful.

“Last year, my husband was out of work for about three months, so we fell really behind in bills,” Garcia said. “We’re just trying to catch up and get out of the hole and give our kids some semblance of normalcy.”