Economy Health On the Hill

Millions of Low-Income Individuals Waiting for Relief Payments That May Never Arrive

Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that more than 80 million Americans have received their COVID-19 relief payments via direct deposit. However, millions of people are still waiting, or may never receive their payments.

The key challenge for the IRS is getting payments to individuals who are not typically required to file tax returns–largely low-income people, students, disabled people, and people in the prison system. For example, individuals are not required to file tax returns if they earn less than $12,200 a year. Tax experts estimated there could be 10 million individuals who are eligible for the payments but may never receive it because of this communication issue over payment information.

The IRS is making various attempts to remedy this issue, and get payments to the people most in need–on a delayed timeline. First, the IRS will dole out automatic $1,200 payments to members of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program whether or not they filed tax returns. The SSI program benefits elderly, blind, and disabled individuals with little to no income.

Second, the IRS launched an online form called “Non-filers: Enter Payment Info Here,” as a way for people to disclose basic information that the IRS would already have if they were required to file tax returns. Similarly, an online form called “Get My Payment” allows people to provide direct deposit information, instead of waiting to get their paper check in the mail. The IRS is not expected to start sending paper checks until sometime next week.

Although these online tools may be convenient for some, many low income individuals also lack the internet access necessary to learn about these tools and input their information online.

Sources: The Hill, 4/17/20; CNN, 4/8/20

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