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12 million low-income people could miss out on stimulus payments

There are about 12 million low-income people who are at risk of missing out on the federal government's...

Posted: Jun 15, 2020 12:44 PM
Updated: Jun 16, 2020 6:30 PM

There are about 12 million low-income people who are at risk of missing out on the federal government's stimulus payment program because they don't have to file taxes, according to an estimate from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Most people have received the payment automatically, but many who aren't normally required to file taxes must submit information to the Internal Revenue Service by October 15 in order to receive the cash.

By law, individuals don't have to file if they earn less than $12,200. The threshold is doubled for married couples. Since they aren't in the IRS system, they must file a basic form using an online 'non-filer' tool that the agency created for the stimulus program. It asks for names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, addresses or bank account numbers so that the government can send them the money.

More than 4 million people have used the non-filer tool to get payments so far, according to the House Ways and Means Committee.

But it could be hard and costly to reach eligible payment recipients who still haven't filed -- and for them to submit the necessary information even once they are contacted, since that requires an internet connection.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a think tank, is calling on states and counties to help notify people that they may be eligible for the money. It estimates that about 9 million non-filers receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Medicaid benefits, which means that states or local agencies have their information on file.

Other non-filers, like those who receive Social Security, Railroad Retirement, Supplemental Security Income or veterans' pension benefits were not required to submit an online form. The IRS used information on record at other government agencies to automatically send them the money.

Congress created the program in late March as part of its $2 trillion coronavirus aid package and the IRS started sending out the first payments in mid-April.

On June 3, the IRS said it had sent money to all eligible Americans for whom it had the necessary information, totaling 159 million payments worth $267 billion. Most were directly deposited into people's bank accounts, but about 35 million people were sent paper checks and another 4 million were sent pre-paid debit cards in the mail.

But the Ways and Means Committee has estimated that there are about 30 to 35 million payments that still need to be made.

There are several reasons some people could still be waiting. Anyone required to file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 must do so before they are sent the stimulus money. Those who filed a paper return this year may see delays because the agency stopped opening a lot of its mail when it ordered employees to work from home during the pandemic.

Eligibility for the payments is largely based on income, and it excludes individuals earning more than $99,000, head of household filers with one child who earn more than $136,500, and married couples without children earning more than $198,000.

Families earning a little more may still be eligible if they have children. The phase-out limit depends on how many children they have. For a typical family of four, the amount is completely phased out for those with incomes exceeding $218,000.

Those who can be claimed as a dependent for tax purposes, like many college students, are also ineligible for the payments, as well as undocumented immigrants who don't have Social Security numbers. That includes citizens who are married to someone who files taxes using a taxpayer identification number.

The payments are worth up to $1,200 per individual and up to $2,400 per couple, plus an additional $500 for each dependent.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 193732

Reported Deaths: 2572
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Washington25592233
Marion22026306
Clackamas17440214
Lane13007148
Jackson10862139
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Umatilla820284
Linn492969
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Polk375752
Malheur351863
Josephine334570
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Wasco137728
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Crook111322
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Grant5095
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Harney3448
Wallowa1845
Gilliam631
Sherman581
Wheeler321
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California Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 3764405

Reported Deaths: 62573
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles123645624067
Riverside2994554594
San Bernardino2967824715
San Diego2785913729
Orange2709835026
Santa Clara1190642096
Kern1091771374
Sacramento1048401686
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Alameda879401657
Ventura810011013
San Joaquin732201391
Contra Costa68741805
Stanislaus621421061
Tulare49654839
Monterey43613383
San Mateo42038568
San Francisco36720544
Santa Barbara34337456
Solano32953252
Merced31898460
Sonoma30035320
Imperial28443726
Kings22989246
Placer22679292
San Luis Obispo21308260
Madera16462242
Santa Cruz16264207
Marin14056227
Yolo13910210
Shasta12152226
Butte12026199
El Dorado10168112
Napa987082
Sutter9433112
Yuba626847
San Benito606563
Lassen570624
Tehama557262
Nevada474275
Tuolumne413166
Mendocino410149
Humboldt404641
Amador365847
Lake347643
Glenn239125
Colusa223416
Siskiyou223424
Calaveras212954
Inyo142838
Del Norte13938
Mono12844
Plumas7106
Modoc4994
Mariposa4487
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