Covering COVID-19 is a daily Poynter briefing of story ideas about the coronavirus and other timely topics for journalists, written by senior faculty Al Tompkins. Sign up here to have it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.
If you get a letter from the IRS that says you owe money because of a math error, pay attention. You could get one of four kinds of letters: CP 11, CP 12, CP 13, or letter 6470. None of them is likely to contain good news.
The Taxpayer Advocate Service says 9 million Americans have gotten notices from the IRS that say the government is billing them for payment due to a “math error.” 7.4 million of the errors were due to pandemic-era stimulus overpayments.
But wait, there’s more.
Financial experts warn that even more people are likely to get “math error” notices because of mistakes that inevitably have been made paying out monthly child tax credit payments.
These letters began arriving in people’s mailboxes recently, leading many taxpayers to speculate on social media and in Facebook groups whether they might be a scam.
The best bet this year, though, is you’re getting the letter because of the economic stimulus payments. If your gross adjusted income exceeds $75,000 (or $150,000 if you’re married and filing jointly, or $112,500 if head of household), then you might have to pay some of that stimulus check back.
Fast Company zeros in on who is most likely to get a math error…