Stimulus check: Will you have to repay part of it because of a ‘math error’?

The IRS has notified more than 11 million Americans that because of a “math error,” they owe more in taxes than they paid this year.

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The letters to taxpayers went out over the summer and, according to the IRS, are still being delivered.

According to The Taxpayer Advocate Service, 7.4 million of the errors in tax returns the IRS is contacting people about are due to overpayments involving the COVID-19 stimulus payments from 2020.

The letters sent by the IRS have the classification of CP 11, CP 12, CP 13 or letter 6470. CP 11, CP 12 and CP 13 are letters explaining taxpayer errors in calculations and what is different in a return.

Letter 6470 includes instructions on how to appeal the changes within a 60-day period, something that was omitted in the CP letters.

A person has only 60 days to dispute an error in their return, but according to the Taxpayer Advocate Service, more than 5 million taxpayers were sent error notices that failed to explain the 60-day time period.

According to Fast Company, the majority of those who received the letters were people who claimed the recovery rebate credit. That credit allows a person to claim the stimulus check on their tax return if they had not gotten it before they filed their taxes.

The claim for the recovery rebate credit would be for the stimulus checks issued in 2020.

“In the vast majority of cases, the math error notices were likely informing people that they weren’t eligible for a recovery rebate that they’d tried to claim, or that the rebate amount would be smaller,” Fast Company reported.

If a taxpayer replies to the IRS within 60 days and requests an abatement of the change, the IRS must comply and follow certain procedures to reassess the tax. However, taxpayers have complained about long wait times to talk with an IRS representative.

The IRS says its phone wait times average 27 minutes. The agency received more than four times as many calls in the 2021 filing season as it did in 2019, according to the agency.

“IRS employees could not keep pace with this massive volume of calls, resulting in the poorest service ever” in spring 2021, an IRS release stated.

In addition, the agency’s website stated in a Sept. 3 notice that it was correcting “significantly more errors on tax returns than in previous years.”

Three sets of stimulus payments were made to individuals with gross adjusted income of less than $75,000, or $150,000 if they were married and filed jointly, or $112,500 if they filed their taxes as a head of household.

Correction: The original story indicated the recovery refund credit was for the third stimulus payment authorized in the spring of 2021. The recovery refund credit filed on 2020 income tax forms deals with the first two stimulus payments paid in 2020.