IRS: Up to 9 million people need to claim federal stimulus checks

Coronavirus

The IRS plans to notify 9 million Americans who may be eligible for a government stimulus check but who have yet to claim the relief payment. 

That mostly pertains to people who typically don’t file a federal income tax return, the agency said Tuesday. They will have until October 15 to register for IRS.gov‘s non-filer tool to receive their payments by year-end. According to the IRS, about 160 million taxpayers have received the payments, which were designed to offset the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The stimulus checks targeted middle- and low-income households by providing $1,200 for single taxpayers, $2,400 for married couples and $500 per child under 17 years old. To deliver the checks as quickly as possible, the IRS relied on taxpayers’ most recent tax returns, which included either banking details for direct deposit or home addresses for paper checks. 

But there are millions of Americans who don’t file taxes, such as some senior citizens and low-income households, which has slowed delivery of the stimulus checks to these groups.

“We are taking this extra step to help Americans who may not know they could be eligible for this payment or don’t know how to register for one,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig in a statement. “People who aren’t required to file a tax return can quickly register on IRS.gov and still get their money this year.”

The IRS says it will begin mailing the letters on September 24, which will inform recipients that they could be eligible for a payment if they meet certain criteria, such as if they are a citizen or a resident alien and have a valid Social Security number. The IRS said that 7 million people have already registered through the Non-Filers tool to receive a check.

No guarantee

By registering at the IRS’ site, people can give their bank account information to the tax agency, which will then wire the money by year-end. Those who don’t provide bank account information will receive a check in the mail.

However, if eligible individuals fail to register by October 15 and haven’t yet received a check, they will have to file a federal income tax return in order to claim a stimulus check, the IRS said. In some cases, that might mean waiting to file a return in early 2021 for the current 2020 tax year.

The IRS also cautions that receiving a letter about registering by October 15 isn’t a guarantee that someone is eligible to get a stimulus check. Some people are excluded from the payments, such immigrants without a Green Card and those who are incarcerated. 

High-income people are also excluded, with single earners over $99,000 and married couples earning more than $198,000 ineligible for payment. 

Congressional lawmakers remain at odds over whether to authorize funding for another round of stimulus payments. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that the Senate would vote on a “targeted” coronavirus relief package this week, but the legislation does not provide money for a stimulus check.

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