IRS races to get remaining stimulus checks to low-income households
The IRS, lawmakers and advocacy groups are making a last-minute push to ensure as many low-income households as possible receive coronavirus stimulus payments this year, ahead of a key deadline this weekend.
Eligible recipients have until Saturday at 3 p.m. EST to use the IRS web tool for nonfilers to submit their information to get their payment this year. The tool is intended for the millions of people who are not typically required to file a tax return, generally because they have very low incomes.
While most eligible Americans have already received their relief payment, those who haven’t are likely among the hardest people for the IRS to reach. The agency has been engaging with a wide range of stakeholders to spread awareness about the upcoming deadline.
“Already, millions of Americans have successfully used the Non-Filers portal and received their Economic Impact Payment,” IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said in a statement earlier this month. “Registration is quick and easy, and we urge everyone to share this information to reach as many people before time runs out on Nov. 21.”
Congress passed coronavirus relief legislation in March mandating that most Americans receive one-time direct payments of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per dependent child under 17.
The vast majority of Americans received their payment in the spring, and got their payments from the IRS automatically because they had filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return or received certain federal benefits. The IRS said in a news release this week that it has issued about 160 million payments totaling about $270 billion.
But the IRS does not have the information it needs to provide payments to every eligible American.
The agency has been taking steps in an effort to get payments to eligible people who have not yet received their checks. In April, it set up a web tool that nonfilers can use to provide the IRS with information such as their address, bank account and dependents. More than 8 million people have used the tool, according to the IRS.
The IRS initially set a deadline of Oct. 15 for people to use the portal in order to receive their payment this year. After lawmakers pressed for the deadline to be extended, the agency moved it to Nov. 21.
Additionally, the IRS is allowing nonfilers who receive certain federal benefits and have not received stimulus payments for their children to use the web tool by Nov. 21 to claim the payments for their dependents.
While the IRS automatically sent payments to nonfilers who receive Social Security, railroad retirement benefits, Supplemental Security Income and veterans’ benefits, recipients of those benefits have needed to provide the agency with information in order to receive payments for their children. The IRS initially set spring deadlines for federal benefit recipients to use the nonfiler tool to register for payments for their dependents, but the agency later set a new deadline and ultimately extended it to Nov. 21.
Stakeholders said the deadline extension was helpful, given that people are in need of financial assistance amid the pandemic.
The ability to receive the money “is going to make a big difference to families,” said Cristina Martin Firvida, vice president of government affairs at AARP.
Households that have not received some or all of the payment to which they are entitled and do not provide their information to the IRS by Nov. 21 can receive their payment next year by filing a 2020 tax return.
One of the biggest challenges to reaching low-income residents is the fact that some nonfilers don’t have internet access.
Earlier this fall, the IRS sent letters to about 9 million Americans who typically don’t file tax returns, urging them to claim their payments. During a congressional hearing last month, Rettig said the IRS has been holding multiple outreach events per week, has sent tool kits to members of Congress and has been interacting with ethnic media outlets and homeless shelters.
The agency designated Nov. 10 as National EIP Registration Day to spread awareness about the upcoming deadline along with community organizations. And the IRS has been continuing to highlight the deadline in the days since, with Rettig bringing it up at an event hosted by the American Institute of CPAs this week.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have also been highlighting Saturday’s deadline to their constituents, including on social media.
“For tens of thousands of Virginian families who haven’t yet received their stimulus payments, I urge you to submit your info by Nov 21,” Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerTop cybersecurity official ousted by Trump Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg and Dorsey return for another hearing | House passes 5G funding bill | Twitter introduces ‘fleets’ House approves legislation providing 0 million to boost US 5G efforts MORE (D-Va.) tweeted Tuesday. “Don’t leave this money on the table.”
A spokesperson for Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyColorado Democrat Ed Perlmutter tests positive for coronavirus On The Money: Trump’s controversial Fed nominee stalled | Economists warn of lag time between vaccine and recovery | Business group calls for national mask mandate, COVID-19 relief Grassley tests positive for coronavirus MORE (R-Iowa) said that the senator “has been promoting the deadline on social media, through news media and directly to Iowans.”
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealOn The Money: House Democrats to renew effort to obtain Trump’s tax returns | How Biden might use executive power to advance economic agenda House Democrats to renew effort to obtain Trump’s tax returns next year The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden wins Arizona, confers with Dem leaders; Trump tweets MORE (D-Mass.) and Rep. Bill PascrellWilliam (Bill) James PascrellDemocratic lawmaker calls for DOJ investigation of entire Trump administration Biden’s gain is Democratic baseball’s loss with Cedric Richmond On The Money: House Democrats to renew effort to obtain Trump’s tax returns | How Biden might use executive power to advance economic agenda MORE (D-N.J.), chairman of the panel’s oversight subcommittee, urged House Democratic colleagues late last month to participate in outreach efforts about the stimulus payments.
“Your outreach could make a significant difference for tens of thousands of households in your Congressional District, particularly low-income households that do not file tax returns with the IRS,” Neal and Pascrell wrote in a letter.
Nonprofits have been working throughout the year to connect with nonfilers.
United Way has set up a dedicated webpage with information about the stimulus payments as well as a phone line dedicated to calls about the payments that’s part of its 211 system. The group has been partnering with other organizations to spread awareness of the Saturday deadline.
Additionally, earlier this year, United Way, with funding from a foundation, provided grants to local organizations that work with people experiencing homelessness to get the word out about the stimulus. Grant money was used to purchase laptops, tablets and internet hotspot devices to help people fill out the forms so that they can receive their payments, said Laura Scherler, senior director of economic mobility and corporate solutions at United Way Worldwide.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Get it Back campaign has developed outreach materials such as a guide about how to fill out the IRS’s non-filer form. The group also recently been focusing on digital outreach efforts, including digital ads and working with a social-impact agency to do an awareness campaign involving influencers, said Roxy Caines, director of the Get it Back campaign.
This effort has involved celebrities such as George Takei taking to social media to highlight United Way’s resources about the stimulus payments.
Those working on outreach about the stimulus payments said the IRS and nonprofits will still have work to do after the Nov. 21 deadline, to ensure that Americans who don’t get their payments in 2020 get them during next year’s tax-filing season.
“The work will be ongoing,” Scherler said.