Some single parents unable to get stimulus money due to exes listing them on taxes

You might be monitoring your bank account or your mail for that second stimulus check - or maybe you’ve already gotten it. But many local families are in a dire position knowing they won’t see a dime of that money.

There are several scenarios for why this is happening, but they all involve how ones taxes were filed.

"What the IRS does is just work with the information they have, so whatever information is included in your previous tax return. They don’t go out and verify the info is accurate or correct, they just use the information they have," says Kristofer Leavitt, a managing partner at O’Brien and Associates, a family law firm in Redmond.

In some cases an ex-spouse may file you and your kids as dependents fraudulently, or maybe circumstances have changed since taxes were filed in 2019. Or it was your ex’s turn to file the kids as dependents, even though the children live with you. 

It can be a complex and maddening issue Audrey Smith has been trying to deal with, especially after losing both of her jobs due to Covid.

"We truly have the need and we can't receive the money to help us."

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When Smith went to apply for the first stimulus check for her and her children, which would’ve given her $3,200, she found out her ex listed her and the kids as dependents, even though they have a no-contact order against him.

"The situation is extremely frustrating, that money will never be in any way to support them and help them, and that’s what the money is there for."

Smith has consulted with many other Washingtonians in her same position. The only solution they’ve came up with, she says, isn’t an option for her.

"I don’t have the means to get a lawyer to fight this. So this money is going to somebody who doesn’t have any connection to us whatsoever anymore, yet we're the ones in need of this help and we can't afford to fight it."

Between her and her four children, they’ll be missing out on $3,000 they should be getting from a second stimulus check. "When everyone talks about how much they’re going to get I’m worried about getting anything ever. Being the only parent able to be with my kids during these times, and I don’t have any other parent who can go off to work. I really need it and every penny of it counts."

We also heard from dozens of local parents who have the same issue as Smith. Many told us they are praying there are state officials who can help them, saying they need the money more than ever and feel hopeless.