IRS special letter going to non-filers with info on how to get COVID tax relief payments by year's end
More than 160 million people have received the COVID-19 economic impact payment (EIP) that was approved in late March. Still, says the Internal Revenue Service, that's not everyone who's eligible for the relief money.
In fact, the tax agency says around nine million Americans still are due the stimulus. But to get it this year, they need to contact the IRS.
And the IRS will be sending them a special letter later this month to encourage them to file for the relief payment, preferably by Oct. 15.
Don't have to file, but qualify for COVID cash: These nine-or-so million folks who've so far missed out on the EIPs are those who typically don't file federal income tax returns.
Since the IRS has no filing data on them, it can't send out the money like it's done for millions of others this year. Those EIPs were delivered based on 2018 or 2019 individual tax return data.
The IRS created an online tool where non-filers can submit their data specifically for the purpose of getting a relief payment.
It could be as much $1,200 for single people or double that for a married couple that files a joint return. People with qualifying children younger than 17 at the end of 2019 also could get up to $500 for each qualifying child.
The IRS says that if these folks do file for an EIP by Oct. 15, they should receive the money by the end of this year.
Reminder mailing: To ensure that these EIP eligible individuals do file for the relief money, the IRS will start sending on Sept. 24 a special letter with information on the steps they need to take.
It's in in English on one side, Spanish on the other and details eligibility criteria and how an EIP can be claimed online via the IRS' Non-Filers tool. (You also can read more about how this online option in my post from back in April on IRS online tool helps non-filers apply for COVID-19 payments.)
The IRS is sending it to individuals who haven't filed a return for either 2018 or 2019. And how will they know this? Because they got some income, but not enough to require them to fill out a Form 1040. Those low earnings also were reported on copies of these folks' W-2 and 1099 forms, as well as other third-party statements, that are routinely copied to the IRS.
Again, even though they didn't make enough money to require filing a tax return, they still are eligible for the first EIP distribution.
No letter, no problems: Even if you don't get the reminder letter and believe you, as a non-filer, are eligible for the coronavirus relief, file anyway.
Just go to IRS.gov and click on the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here link — that's it shown below; the red arrow is my addition to highlight it — and it will take you to that special page.
Once at the Non-Filers page, you should be able to provide information that the IRS will use to determine eligibility and payment amount and then send the appropriate COVID-19 relief payment amount.
If you have a bank account, the IRS recommends you also include that information so that the EIP can be more quickly delivered as a direct deposit.
Watch out for EIP scams: Unfortunately, this latest IRS effort to get COVID-19 economic relief money into the correct hands means that scam artists also are likely to take advantage of the mailing.
Since the IRS has published the letter, criminals are likely to reproduce it, but replace links and phone numbers that they hope you'll use to send them, not the IRS, your personal information. Once they get that, they can fraudulently apply for your EIP and/or steal your identity to commit other tax and financial crimes.
You can avoid that by comparing the letter you get via the U.S. Postal Service to the one shown here in this post, which is a copy of the IRS' official PDF version posted at its website.
The real IRS EIP letter/notice has a toll-free 800 number — (800) 919-9835 — that you can call if you have any questions. If you get a look-alike IRS letter with a different number, do not call it and do not follow that fake letter's instructions.
Also ignore and emails or phone calls you might get that reference this letter. That's not how the IRS is contacting people about applying for their EIP by mid-October. Remember, the IRS does not send unsolicited electronic communications asking people to open attachments, visit a website or share personal or financial information.
Proceed with caution: COVID-19 has messed with so much of our lives this year, including taxes. And it's been a great opportunity for the scumbags among us to try to steal our tax refunds, coronavirus relief payments and our identities.
I talked about some of the ones concocted earlier this year in Don't fall for these 4 common COVID-19 payment scams and 6 ways to know your COVID-19 check is real. That advice still applies so that you don't become a crooks' easy prey.
When in doubt about anything tax related, go directly and solely to IRS.gov for official information. That's the only website where you can find the real Non-Filers tool to get your economic relief money.
And, after you've applied for the EIP, find out the status of your money at the IRS' Get My Payment tool. (Again, more on this coronavirus payment tracking tool and IRS improvements to in my post, also in April, 'Get My Payment' should now help more taxpayers get coronavirus stimulus info.)
The bottom line is if you haven't filed a return but think you should get at least some COVID-19 financial relief, be on the lookout for the IRS letter with details on how to do that.
Or get ahead of the IRS and mail and go directly to the tax agency's non-filers tool now.
You also might find these items of interest:
- Tax injured spouses to get catch-up COVID-19 payments
- COVID-created tax refund interest payments going to nearly 14 million filers
- Get government benefits? Have kids? You have until Sept. 30 to claim added COVID cash
|Coronavirus Caveat & More Information
In 2020, we're all dealing with extraordinary circumstances,
both in our daily lives and when it comes to our taxes.
The COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to reduce its transmission
and protect ourselves and our families means that,
for the most part, we're focusing on just getting through these trying days.
But life as we knew it before the coronavirus will return,
along with our mundane tax matters.
Here's hoping that happens soon!
In the meantime, you can find more on the virus and its effects on our taxes
by clicking Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Taxes.