Incredibly, up to 12 million people have yet to receive their pandemic stimulus checks, also called the Economic Income Payment or EIP. Many of them are low-income individuals who either don’t file tax returns or don’t receive federal government benefits.
According to the IRS, self-supporting college students, individuals who receive little or no income, and those who don’t normally file a tax return may be among people who still qualify for an EIP.
The payments were part of the CARES Act passed in March to stimulate the economy during the coronavirus pandemic, with direct payments up to $1,200 for individuals and up to $2,400 for married couples. People with children under age 17 at the end of 2019 are eligible to get an additional $500 per child, Fox 10 Phoenix reported.
The IRS hasn’t told the public precisely who the people are that have not received their checks, according to Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal who interviewed Lydia DePillis, an economic policy reporter for ProPublica.
“What they have told us is that back in September, there were 9 million people who they think were probably eligible for the stimulus checks, but had not needed to file taxes in the last couple of years. So, in order to claim them, (they) would have to file in their online portal,” said DePillis. “The other bucket of folks is people who the Treasury has said are not eligible for the stimulus checks, but courts have disagreed.”
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The IRS did some outreach and ran some Facebook ads to alert people who have yet to get a check. But some are difficult to reach.
“One constituency they really tried to reach was homeless people for whom $1,200 would be completely transformative,” DePillis said. “Even if you did have a smartphone, the portal that you need to apply for doesn’t work on a smartphone, unfortunately.
“(For) those people, the usual place they would go to gain information and access the internet, like libraries, were closed down during the pandemic. So, it was even harder to reach people than it would have been in other normal circumstances.”
Consumers have been receiving scam texts regarding a $1,200 stimulus check, along with a link to click so that the money can be sent to their bank accounts, Wink News reported. The scam is designed to get consumers to reveal their financial and personal information, the IRS said in a statement.
The text reads: “You have received a direct deposit of $1,200 from COVID-19 TREAS FUND. Further action is required to accept this payment into your account. Continue here to accept this payment …”
Clicking the link will take you to a fraudulent website that appears to be the IRS.gov Get My Payment website. The IRS said the fake website asks victims to enter “their personal and financial account information.”
The IRS said it never texts or emails consumers and it is warning people not to click on the link.
“Criminals are relentlessly using covid-19 and Economic Impact Payments as cover to try to trick taxpayers out of their money or identities,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement. “This scam is a new twist on those we’ve been seeing much of this year. We urge people to remain alert to these types of scams.”
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There is a Nov. 21 deadline to apply through the IRS online portal for stimulus checks.
All will not be lost if you miss the Nov. 21 cutoff. Tax filers in 2021 can “instead claim the Recovery Rebate Credit when they file their 2020 federal income tax return,” the IRS noted.