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Lawmakers urge IRS to get stimulus payments to domestic violence survivors

Lawmakers urge IRS to get stimulus payments to domestic violence survivors
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan group of more than 100 House lawmakers on Wednesday urged the IRS to promptly issue stimulus payments to survivors of domestic violence.

"From speaking with our caseworkers and advocates serving survivors of domestic violence, we are deeply concerned that survivors remain unable to access [economic impact payments]," the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinOn The Money: Schumer urges Democrats to stick together on .9T bill | Collins rules out GOP support for Biden relief plan | Powell fights inflation fears Mnuchin expected to launch investment fund seeking backing from Persian Gulf region: report Larry Kudlow debuts to big ratings on Fox Business Network MORE and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig.

"Congress passed the bipartisan CARES Act to swiftly deliver money into the hands of our most vulnerable constituents, and we cannot leave out survivors of domestic violence," they added, referring to the record $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package from late March.

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Under the CARES Act, most Americans are entitled to a one-time payment of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child. The Treasury Department and IRS issued the vast majority of payments in the spring, but there are still some people who have not received their check.

Lawmakers on Wednesday said their caseworkers have been trying to help constituents whose payments went to abusive spouses or were intercepted by abusive partners. They also noted that the IRS has told caseworkers that in cases involving married couples, constituents should try to resolve the division of the stimulus payment as part of a divorce settlement.

"This suggestion is simply untenable and ignores the hardship that these individuals face each day," the lawmakers wrote. "Further, it forgets those victims who are not married to their abusers but reside at the same address."

The lawmakers urged the IRS to create a process for domestic violence survivors to notify the IRS that they have not received their payments due to theft or similar actions by their abusers. They said the IRS could then use that information to issue payments directly to survivors.

During a hearing in June, Rettig was asked about concerns that domestic violence survivors weren't getting their payments. Rettig responded by saying “every person at the Internal Revenue Service is very sympathetic, understanding and would like to assist any victim of domestic violence.”

The Government Accountability Office said in a report issued earlier this month that the IRS is considering options that could help survivors of domestic abuse, "including outreach to advocacy groups for victims of domestic abuse who can advise survivors of legal and other options they can pursue in such situations."