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sample look at a stimulus payment debit card with a screen of the IRS website in the background. EIPCARD.COM (DEBIT CARD); IRS.GOV (WEBSITE)

IRS: Time almost up for eligible people to register for COVID-19 stimulus checks

Time is running out to get your COVID-19 stimulus check, with about two weeks remaining for people to register with the IRS to receive the federal relief payments. College students and low-income adults may be among those who qualify for the money but haven’t yet received a check, according to the tax agency.

The IRS says people need to act quickly to make the registration deadline of November 21. The payments were authorized in March by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act, which provided up to $1,200 to eligible individuals and up to $2,400 for married couples, with an additional $500 for each dependent under 17.

About 9 million people were urged by the IRS to register via its so-called Non-Filers tool to qualify for the checks, with the agency sending letters through the mail to alert them about the money. These are people who are adults and not required to file annual tax returns, such as some senior citizens, low-income households or college students who aren’t claimed as dependents by their parents.

These adults fell through the cracks of the IRS system to get the checks out as quickly as possible. The agency had relied on taxpayers’ most recent tax returns, which included either banking details for direct deposit or home addresses for paper checks, to determine where to send the money — a problem for adults who don’t file tax returns.

College students may be among those who haven’t received a check but qualify for one, the IRS said on Thursday. “College students in particular should be careful not to overlook these payments if they’re supporting themselves and can’t be claimed as a dependent on someone’s tax returns,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement. “A few minutes of research could really help students.”

Adults who don’t normally file a tax return may have received a letter from the IRS about registering for the stimulus check. But the Federal Trade Commission on Monday warned consumers to be wary if someone calls, emails or text claiming to be from the IRS and offers to help people obtain their stimulus payment. Such communications are are scams, the FTC said, noting that the IRS isn’t contacting consumers about the checks using those channels. (Instead, people should look for a letter, which the FTC said will match this letter from the IRS.)

Non-filers can enter their payment info on the IRS website.

The only people who should register are those who:
  • Don’t typically file a tax return
  • Are not required to file a tax return and have not yet registered
  • Certain benefit recipients who got an EIP for themselves but need to provide information about a non-beneficiary spouse or qualifying child

Next stimulus check?

By registering at the IRS’ Non-Filers site, eligible 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 November 21 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.

However, simply getting a letter from the IRS about the stimulus payments doesn’t guarantee that you will be eligible, the agency has said. Some people are excluded from the payments, such as immigrants without a Green Card.

Even as the IRS tries to track down the remaining eligible people who haven’t yet received a stimulus payment, millions of Americans are looking forward to another round of stimulus payments.

Hopes for a fresh round of COVID-19 relief remain in limbo as votes in the November 3 presidential election continue to be tallied in key battleground states. The fate of stimulus talks will likely hinge on the outcome of the election, analysts say.

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