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Higgins leads effort to make sure Americans receive full COVID-19 relief payment they are owed

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Tue, Dec 15th 2020 02:20 pm

Members pressing IRS to confirm millions of people eligible for rebates aren’t shortchanged

Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, is leading an effort to see that Americans receive the full COVID-19 relief payment they are entitled to under the CARES Act. Millions of individuals are still waiting for economic impact payments.

Joining Higgins on a letter to Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles Rettig are House Committee on Ways and Means members: Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA), Danny Davis (D-IL), Terri Sewell (D-AL), Daniel Kildee (D-MI), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ).

The members wrote, “Economic stimulus payments are an important piece of the individual relief provisions in the CARES Act. Those who have not yet received their EIPs have already waited longer than millions of their fellow Americans, often through no fault of their own, to receive aid. In order to provide the most direct and effective relief to taxpayers in need, the full amount of their payment should be released.”

The CARES Act, approved by the House of Representatives on March 27, included direct payments to Americans of up to $1,200 plus an additional $500 for dependent children. The majority of Americans who filed taxes in 2018 or 2019 – and therefore have current information on record with the IRS – received their checks directly without further action. However many others have had their payments delayed, including non-filers, such as some who make under a certain income threshold; Social Security recipients; part-time workers; veterans; those who are homeless; and people with disabilities. They had to take additional steps to claim economic impact payments.

On Nov. 21, the window closed for the IRS to process requests for payments from non-filers and, now, individuals in this group must wait until tax filing season in 2021 to apply for the Recovery Rebate Credit. The IRS closed its economic impact payment inbox for constituent cases on Dec. 10, instead advising taxpayers to file for the credit in 2021.

Higgins’ office has heard from dozens of individuals in Western New York whose requests for economic impact payments were not resolved by the deadline and must now wait months to receive their payments. There is concern that direct payments will be offset by taxes owed, leaving some who need it most without the full payment they were intended to receive under the CARES Act.

A Government Accountability Office report notes the Department of Treasury estimated 30 million individuals who don’t file taxes were eligible for economic impact payments. In September, the IRS sent letters to nearly 9 million non-filers, including over 537,000 New Yorkers, encouraging recipients who have not yet received payments to see if they are eligible. Earlier this month, Higgins joined the Ways and Means Committee Democrats to urge the IRS to resolve all outstanding constituent inquiries regarding economic impact payments before Dec. 31.

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