By Shereen Siewert

Julie Erdmann is fed up.

Erdmann, of Wausau, is one of millions of Americans who, when Congress authorized a second round of stimulus checks in December, let out a breath she’d been holding for what seemed like months. For the 39-year-old restaurant worker and single mother, the $2,4o0 total she is set to receive sounded like the answer to all her prayers.

“I’m picking up all the hours I can at work but there aren’t enough to go around when people aren’t going out to eat like they used to,” Erdmann said. “We’ve been living on credit cards. I thought, when I heard we were getting those checks I’d finally be able to get on solid ground again.”

But so far, those checks haven’t come for Erdmann, or for about 13 million other taxpayers, thanks to a glitch in how payments were processed by the Internal Revenue Service.

Here’s what happened: Millions of payments were sent to temporary accounts, which are often used by tax preparation services for customers choosing to have preparation fees deducted from the refund. Temporary accounts allow tax firms to take their share of payments before refunds are passed on to customers.

Some – but not all – customers who used H&R Block, Turbo Tax or other services to file 2019 taxes were affected, including Erdmann, who used TaxAct.

In a statement issued Friday, IRS officials said the agency is “taking immediate steps to redirect stimulus payments to the correct account for those affected.”

“The IRS anticipates many additional taxpayers will receive payments following this effort,” the statement read, adding that direct deposits should be appearing “in the coming days.”

But TaxAct President Curtis Campbell said customers are more likely to receive their checks after Feb. 1.

“While it’s possible some may be able to receive payments earlier, this was the date that was provided by the IRS today,” Campbell said on Monday.

By law, the IRS said, the agency must issue the stimulus payments by Jan. 15, adding another layer of confusion to the process. After Jan. 15, taxpayers who are entitled to a payment and haven’t received one can claim a credit on their 2020 returns. Filers can fill the so-called Recovery Rebate Credit on line 30 of the 2020 Form 1040 or 1040-SR.

Erdmann said she is already discussing filing a rebate credit for her oldest daughter, a 22-year-old college graduate who didn’t receive either credit because she was an adult dependent in 2019. Now living in Minnesota, Erdmann’s daughter is living and working on her own, but because of her tax status didn’t qualify for either stimulus check.

“What a mess,” Erdmann said. “I mean, I’m grateful for the help, but this is all so ridiculous.”

Taxpayers expecting a stimulus payment can check the status through the IRS’ Get My Payment tool. If the tool indicates payment was sent to an unfamiliar account, that’s not necessarily an indication of fraud, the IRS said. That might just mean you were linked to a temporary account, and you should continue to watch your bank account for a deposit, officials said.

More than 100 people have received stimulus payments so far in this round, according to the IRS, with about 8 million payments arriving on prepaid debit cards.

Campbell said he is disappointed that the IRS did not agree to alternative steps that could have resulted in payments as early as this week, even after TaxAct sent funds back to the agency.

“We share your frustration,” Campbell said.