Many lower income households who are still wondering why they didn’t get a stimulus check of $1,200 or more are getting another second chance.
The Internal Revenue Service is extending what had been an Oct. 15 deadline until Nov. 21 for those who typically don’t file a tax return to get their information to the IRS.
The IRS is trying to connect with people who typically don’t file a tax return and have not received a stimulus check or Economic Impact Payment yet. Those stimulus payments began rolling out in April but millions did not get money yet.
Who needs to do extra work to get money?
The goal is to reach out to homeless people, people who have little or no income and others in underserved communities who might qualify for a stimulus payment.
We’re often talking about consumers with incomes typically below $24,400 for married couples, and $12,200 for singles who could not be claimed as a dependent by someone else.
“We have remained especially focused on getting payments out to people who are homeless, who don’t normally have a return filing obligation, or who otherwise live their life outside normal lines of communication,” according to testimony given by Charles Rettig, the IRS commissioner, to a House subcommittee on Oct. 7.
The IRS, Rettig said, has been working to reach out to “many lower-income, military, veterans, retired, older, limited English proficient, and homeless communities around the country.”
And the IRS is asking for assistance from hundreds of local community groups and religious organizations as part of its outreach.
What step needs to be taken?
The IRS wants people to supply information via its online tool called “Non-filers Enter Info Here” at www.irs.gov. You’d be able to request direct deposit of the money or receive a paper check.
Beginning two weeks after registering, people can track the status of their payment using the Get My Payment tool at IRS.gov.
Consumers continue to be warned to avoid any of these COVID-19-related scams. You don’t want to give a stranger your banking information if they call pretending that they can get your stimulus payment for you.
The IRS is not going to “call, text, email, or contact you on social media asking for personal or bank account information — even related to the economic impact payments.”
The IRS notes that if the agency does show up at your doorstep it is usually after you’ve received many letters in the mail.
The IRS advises that the non-filer tool can be used if you did not file a 2019 federal tax return, get an Economic Impact Payment, or register by using the IRS tool already for an Economic Impact Payment.
What the IRS did not extend: “For taxpayers who requested an extension of time to file their 2019 tax return, that deadline date remains Oct. 15,” according to the IRS notice.
What does it mean if I got a letter?
The IRS sent nearly 9 million letters in September to people who might be eligible for the stimulus money but did not file a tax return in or use the non-filer tool.
The letters went out based on an IRS internal analysis of people who don’t typically have a tax return filing requirement but had received forms W-2, 1099s and other third-party statements.
“We sent letters so recipients could apply for EIPs since we lack certain information, such as whether they became a dependent in 2020, and may actually be ineligible to receive an EIP,” Rettig said.
The IRS said more than 6.7 million individuals have provided their information using the non-filer tool.
The stimulus payment program was designed as an emergency effort to help families financially during the economic fallout triggered by shutdowns across the country to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Many taxpayers who supplied direct deposit information when filing their 2019 tax returns electronically saw that stimulus money early on in April and May. Others waited into June and later to receive money.
Most people did not need to do anything to receive their stimulus checks, though the timeline for receiving the money did vary for different groups of taxpayers.
“So far, more than 160 million payments totaling more than $270 billion have been
delivered, most by direct deposit and some by paper check or prepaid debit card,” Rettig said in testimony in October.
Rettig noted that the IRS worked cooperatively with the Social Security Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs and other government agencies to “pull more information into our systems so that we could send payments to these groups of people without requiring them to file a return or take any other action.”
Many advocacy groups had been concerned during the early talks of the stimulus package about how those with the greatest need might be left out if they’re not regular tax filers.
Now, there are a few more weeks to get that message out to millions.
Susan Tompor is the personal finance columnist for the Detroit Free Press. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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