Better World

Are You Among the Millions at Risk of Losing Thousands in Federal Relief?

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You could be eligible for thousands of dollars in federal relief, but if you—or someone you love—don’t file taxes (or haven’t filed yet), you need to take action now. 

Economic Impact Payments (EIP), frequently called “stimulus checks,” are a big part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Congress passed the CARES Act to help reduce the financial burden of COVID-19. However, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently conducted an analysis and found that 12 million Americans are at risk of missing out on the stimulus payments, amounting to billions of dollars. These are largely folks who aren’t required to file federal income taxes (and don’t participate in certain federal programs that would’ve meant they got their check automatically), but haven’t completed the necessary non-filer form.  

Complete the IRS Non-filer tool if you: 

  • Earned less than $12,200 ($24,400 if married) in 2019; AND
  • Are not required to file a tax return; AND
  • Don’t plan to file taxes.

People with direct deposit information on file with the IRS will get their payment before those who receive their payment by mail. Complete the online form by October 15 so the IRS knows where to send your payment.

File taxes now if you:

  • Earned more than $12,200 ($24,400 if married) in 2019 and haven’t filed taxes; OR
  • Are self-employed and earned more than $400.  

Free advice and help filing your taxes are available online. If you’re ready to submit your taxes, you can file online directly with the IRS.

You’ll automatically receive a check (no action needed) if you:

  • Already filed taxes for 2018 or 2019; OR
  • Receive Social Security, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI); OR
  • Are a railroad retiree or Veterans Affairs (VA) beneficiary.

What are the benefits?

U.S. citizens and U.S. resident aliens will receive the Economic Impact Payment of $1,200 ($2,400 if married and filing jointly) if they are not a dependent of another taxpayer, have a work eligible social security number (SSN), and an adjusted gross income (AGI) up to:

  • $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns
  • $112,500 for head of household filers 
  • $75,000 for all other eligible individuals

Taxpayers will receive a 5% reduction in their payment for the amount their AGI is above these amounts.

You may also be eligible to receive $500 for every dependent under 17 who has a SSN or adoption taxpayer identification number (ATIN).

Who is missing payments?

According to the Center, many people affected by missed payments are some of our most vulnerable citizens. “This group includes very low-income families with children, people who have been disconnected from work opportunities for a long period, and many low-income adults not raising children in their home,” they explained in their analysis. Further compounding the issue is the fact that these are disproportionately people of color. “Ensuring that low-income people of color receive the payments for which they qualify is especially important given emerging evidence that they are being hit hardest by both the economic and health effects of the pandemic.”

Wondering if the proverbial check is in the mail? Visit the IRS Get My Payment Tool to track your EIP. Still have questions? Visit Get It Back for clear, concise, easy-to-follow instructions for how to ensure you receive your stimulus check. Still not sure why you haven’t gotten your check? See if one of these situations applies to you.

ParentsTogether has joined other national organizations committed to helping the estimated 12 million low-income people who are eligible for EIP but risk failing to receive them because they don’t file annual tax returns with the IRS. You can help by sharing this information, so that everyone eligible for EIP receives them.

Kim Yaged is a former US diplomat, has worked for the United Nations, and is an award-winning script, short story, and children’s book writer.