The COVID-19 pandemic and the economic fallout has revealed the brutal inadequacy of the so-called American safety net. One of the crucial measures to help people in need and also boost the economy have been the economic impact payments. Unfortunately, this stimulus money is not reaching millions of people who need the help the most.
Because of the way U.S. Treasury has administered the $1,200 adult and $500 dependent payments, Americans who face the most difficult financial circumstances are unable to access this money.
The IRS has already made automatic payments to more than 80 million households who filed tax returns in either 2018 or 2019. However, tens of millions of Americans have yet to be paid, because their incomes are so low they have not been required to file a tax return in recent years. It took a fight by disability and older adult advocates and members of Congress, to get the IRS to make automatic payments to certain non-tax-filers receiving Social Security retirement or disability.
Even worse, the IRS, with 40 hours notice by government press release, announced that these Social Security beneficiaries receiving automated payments would be required to fill out a special electronic form on the IRS website, called a “non-filer” portal, to add their dependent children to their automated payments. Those missing that poorly communicated deadline would have to wait until 2021 and file a 2020 tax return (which they would not ordinarily need to file) to get the dependent payments.