Filing your 2021 taxes may be more confusing than ever—here’s why

W4 tax form with money, calculator on desk.
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Tax preparers are bracing for a long and confusing tax season because of stimulus checks and the child tax credits that Americans got in 2021.

Many families did not get all the stimulus money and credits they were entitled to, which means they can claim them this year.

Lesa Strull has two children and says she didn’t receive all her child tax credit checks last year.

“I got the first one, I believe I received four, starting in July,” she said. “But come November, there was nothing.”

She said she got no answer from the IRS.

What To Do If You Didn’t Receive What You Were Owed

Tax accountants say they are already getting a lot of questions about the child tax credit because, for a lot of families, it was like getting part of their tax refund six months early.

Certified public accountant Roy Mitchell says for those who didn’t get all they were owed — up to $3,600 per child — now is the time to claim it.

People can also claim a missing stimulus check.

“The short answer there is there will be someplace on there to make that claim, yes,” Mitchell said.

However, his office is bracing for a lot of confusion, and not just from people missing some money.

AP Photo/Patrick Sison

Confusion Over Smaller Tax Refunds

Mitchell also expects to hear from taxpayers wondering why their refund is $1,000 less than last year’s. That is because the child tax credit was an advance on the money they usually get at filing time.

“That can create some confusion when people think they are going to get a full $3,600 credit on the return, and they have forgotten they have already gotten half that amount in advance,” Mitchell said.

Last year’s stimulus checks, on the other hand, will not impact refunds.

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Look For A Letter From IRS In The Mail

For parents who have children under 18, Mitchell suggests they wait to file until they receive a letter from the IRS explaining exactly how much they received and if they are owed more.

Those who are still confused may want to talk to a tax pro. That’s what Strull is doing.

“When I file my taxes, I’ll talk to someone about how to put this on my taxes, so I can get that money,” she said.

A professional will make sure you get any missing credit from 2021, so you don’t waste your money.

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John Matarese

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