April 23, 2020

Warner, Kaine Join Push to Ensure Families Receive Promised COVID-19 Stimulus Payments for their Children as Quickly as Possible

~ Treasury announcement gave families less than 48 hours’ notice to enter additional information needed to receive $500 COVID-19 payment per child ~

WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and 34 of their Senate colleagues calling on the U.S. Treasury Department to ensure that families who are not normally required to file taxes – and who will automatically receive their COVID-19 stimulus payment – do not need to wait until next year to receive the additional $500 payment per dependent child that they were promised if they miss the deadline to fill out information in the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) non-filer portal.

“We write to express our concern that without additional action from your agencies, many families who receive Social Security benefits and have young children may not receive the full cash assistance that Congress provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act until 2021,” wrote the Senators. “We urge your agencies to ensure that economically vulnerable non-filers receiving Social Security retirement, Social Security disability, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits receive stimulus payments for themselves and their dependent children as quickly as possible – before next year.”

The letter comes after Treasury announced on Monday that families on Social Security, who do not normally file tax returns, needed to enter additional information on the IRS website within 48 hours in order to receive thier $500 payment per dependent child, as outlined in the CARES Act. Treasury stated that if families missed the deadline, they would not receive the additional payment until they file in 2021. The Treasury’s announcement also indicated that it would soon set a similar deadline for recipients of Supplemental Security Income and certain Department of Veterans Affairs benefits whose beneficiaries also do not usually file taxes.

 

They continued, “We request that Treasury find another way forward that – without delaying any automatic $1,200 payments – ensures that these Social Security beneficiaries and their children quickly receive the full amount of cash assistance for which they are eligible. We urge your agencies to continue providing access to the Non-Filers tool after non-filers have received their initial automatic stimulus payments, so that these economically vulnerable individuals can request and receive additional payments for dependent children prior to 2021.”

Throughout this crisis, Sens. Warner and Kaine have fought to make sure that families get the assistance they need as quickly and easily as possible. Earlier this month, the Senators successfully pushed Treasury to walk back a decision that would have forced file tax returns in order to receive direct cash payments – a move by Treasury that would have directly contradicted Congressional intent in drafting the CARES Act. Earlier today, Sen. Warner also joined a group of Senators in pushing the Treasury Department to increase its efforts to make Economic Impact Payments available to Americans who are the most vulnerable, including those without access to the internet who cannot file a tax return electronically.

In addition to Senators Warner, Kaine, Hassan, Brown, Bennet, and Booker, the letter was signed by Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Thomas R. Carper (D-DE), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Doug Jones (D-AL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Angus S. King, Jr. (I-ME), Gary C. Peters (D-MI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Christopher S. Murphy (D-CT), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).

Text of the letter is available here or below:

Dear Secretary Mnuchin and Commissioner Saul:

We write to express our concern that without additional action from your agencies, many families who receive Social Security benefits and have young children may not receive the full cash assistance that Congress provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act until 2021. Based on Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance from Monday afternoon, it appears that many Social Security beneficiaries will need to have submitted information about their dependents by yesterday at noon in order to receive their $500 additional stimulus payment per child before next year. Many eligible families will not have been able to meet this short, 48-hour deadline. We urge your agencies to ensure that economically vulnerable non-filers receiving Social Security retirement, Social Security disability, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits receive stimulus payments for themselves and their dependent children as quickly as possible – before next year.

The bipartisan CARES Act recently signed by the President provides direct cash assistance to individuals amidst the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis. The Act provides $1,200 per eligible adult and an additional $500 in cash assistance per dependent child. Three weeks ago, Treasury indicated that Social Security recipients who do not typically file taxes would have to file this year in order to receive these cash payments. The Treasury then reversed course two days later, after we urged the Department to do so, with Secretary Mnuchin saying that “Social Security recipients who are not typically required to file a tax return do not need to take an action,” and would receive direct deposits to their bank accounts.

However, on Monday, April 20, the Treasury announced that many Social Security beneficiaries would need to fill out a simplified tax form within 48 hours in order to receive their families’ full stimulus payments this year. The special alert published by the IRS indicated that Social Security beneficiaries who will automatically receive stimulus payments because they do not typically file tax returns would be required to submit information through the IRS Non-Filers online tool in order to claim $500 payments for their dependent children. According to the IRS, Social Security beneficiaries who failed to claim these dependent payments by noon yesterday, April 22, will no longer be able to use the Non-Filers tool to claim payments for their dependents. The IRS also indicated that recipients of SSI and certain VA benefits who do not usually file taxes will face a similar deadline soon. Any of these non-filers who miss these deadlines to claim their dependents will not be able to receive any payments for dependent children until filing a 2020 tax return in 2021. Estimates indicate this could impact the families of about 1 million child dependents.

We request that Treasury find another way forward that – without delaying any automatic $1,200 payments – ensures that these Social Security beneficiaries and their children quickly receive the full amount of cash assistance for which they are eligible. We urge your agencies to continue providing access to the Non-Filers tool after non-filers have received their initial automatic stimulus payments, so that these economically vulnerable individuals can request and receive additional payments for dependent children prior to 2021. We do not believe that the IRS needs to delay – nor would we support delaying – any automatic $1,200 payments to non-filers in order to achieve this goal.

We greatly appreciate your agencies’ efforts to automatically provide stimulus payments to Social Security retirement, Social Security disability, SSI, and VA beneficiaries who do not file tax returns. We also appreciate Treasury’s efforts to assist non-filers with claiming stimulus payments through the Non-Filers tool. Without these efforts, many non-filers would have missed out on their stimulus payments altogether because they were unable to file a tax return or were unaware they needed to. To continue assisting struggling families during the COVID-19 crisis, we strongly urge your agencies to ensure that non-filers receive their stimulus payments – including additional payments for dependent children – as quickly as possible.

Sincerely,

###