Stimulus Checks: IRS Facing Massive Obstacles With Remaining Payments

Although 159 million coronavirus stimulus payments have already been sent, there are still Americans eligible for a stimulus check who have not received theirs. There are millions of low-income Americans who do not need to file taxes, making it difficult for the IRS to find correct addresses. Therefore, the IRS is making the "Non-Filers" tool available through Oct. 15.

The Economic Impact Payments are part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act signed in late March. The checks were first sent out in mid-April, with millions of American taxpayers receiving their payments through direct deposit. Physical checks began reaching Americans in May. In most cases, the IRS already had banking information or addresses on file because the taxpayers filed their 2018 or 2019 taxes. According to the IRS, 120 million Americans received checks as a direct deposit payment, 35 million by check, and 4 million as a pre-paid debit card. In total, $267 billion has already been paid out, but the IRS did not estimate how many people are still waiting for their payments.

Individuals who make up to $75,000 in adjusted gross income were eligible for the full $1,200, and married couples making up to $150,000 were eligible for twice that. Individuals with incomes over $99,000 received no payment at all. Americans who make less than $12,000 individually are still eligible for payments, but they do not make enough to need to file taxes. Therefore, they can use the Non-Filers tool at IRS.gov to apply for payments through Oct. 15.

However, it will be difficult for those low-income Americans to get access to IRS.gov. "This is a hard population even in a normal time to reach. And when you have things shut down, it becomes even more difficult," Nina Olson, executive director of the Center for Taxpayer Rights, told The Hill. She pointed out that many centers that usually help low-income Americans with their taxes are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Chuck Marr, senior director of federal tax policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, called on states to take a more active role in helping non-filers get their payments. Some of those who still need payments are often regularly in contact with state officers for Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Olson also suggested the IRS reach out to clinics that may reopen soon to help low-income Americans receive their payments. The IRS could also make sure its walk-in officers are open to help people who do not file taxes.

There are still some Americans who have filed their taxes and still did not receive their payment, notes The Hill. These taxpayers can claim their payment when they file their 2020 tax returns if they believe they were eligible. Taxpayers can now call the IRS if they need their payment sooner.