Top Democrat urges IRS to expedite letters to non-filers about stimulus payments

Top Democrat urges IRS to expedite letters to non-filers about stimulus payments
© Greg Nash

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealPelosi asks panels to draft new COVID-19 relief measure AARP endorses Democrats' measure to overturn Trump payroll tax deferral Pelosi, Democrats unveil bills to rein in alleged White House abuses of power MORE (D-Mass.) on Thursday urged the IRS to expedite sending letters that urge non-filers to claim their coronavirus relief payments.

The IRS announced earlier this week that it would start sending letters around Sept. 24 to about 9 million people who did not file tax returns for 2019 or 2018, typically because they have very low incomes. In a letter to the IRS, Neal said that the letters should be sent immediately, rather than toward the end of the month.

"Given that the IRS is using information it has had in its possession for months, and years in some cases, to identify and contact these individuals, it is inexplicable that the agency waited so long to reach out to this vulnerable population," he wrote.

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Under coronavirus relief legislation enacted in March, most Americans are eligible for one-time direct payments of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child. The vast majority of Americans who are eligible have already received their payments. But there are still some who have not gotten their payments, including many non-filers who do not receive certain federal benefits such as Social Security.

The IRS has created a web tool where non-filers can register for their payments by Oct. 15 to get their payments by the end of the year. Otherwise, non-filers can get their payments next year by filing a 2020 tax return.

Neal expressed concerns about the IRS waiting until closer to the Oct. 15 deadline to send the letters.

"Now, as the door is shutting, the IRS is sending a perfunctory letter by snail mail through the weakened U.S. Postal Service to educate individuals about emergency financial assistance to which they have been entitled since March," he wrote.

In addition to urging the IRS to start sending the letters now, Neal urged the IRS to extend the Oct. 15 deadline.

"An [economic impact payment] of $1200, $2400, or more can be a lifeline for a struggling family in severe financial distress," he wrote.