The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is sitting on nine million unclaimed Economic Impact Payment checks and wants to get them off their desk. Beginning September 24, the agency will start mailing letters to taxpayers who usually don't file federal income tax returns but who may be eligible for the checks to step up and claim theirs.
Not every taxpayer is guaranteed a specific amount, but individuals can expect to receive up to $1,200, with the cap for married couples at $2,400. People with qualifying children under age 17 at the end of 2019 can also get up to an additional $500 for each qualifying child.
Non-filers are still eligible for a stimulus check
The letters are being sent to people who, so far, haven't filed a return for either 2018 or 2019. The IRS says that most of the recipients seem to be people who have very low incomes and don't typically have a tax return filing requirement.
"The IRS has made an unprecedented outreach effort to make sure people are aware of their potential eligibility for an Economic Impact Payment this year," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.
"Millions who don't normally file a tax return have already registered and received a payment. We are taking this extra step to help Americans who may not know they could be eligible for this payment or don't know how to register for one. People who aren't required to file a tax return can quickly register on IRS.gov and still get their money this year."
What to look for
Here are some pertinent details about the letter so taxpayers know what to keep an eye out for:
What to look for: The letter is officially known as IRS Notice 1444-A. It is written in English and Spanish and includes information on eligibility criteria and how eligible recipients can claim an Economic Impact Payment on the IRS’ website. The letter will come from an IRS address.
When it will be sent: The mailing will begin around September 24.
When to register by: October 15 is the date eligible citizens should register by to receive a payment. People can also wait until next year and claim it as a credit on their 2020 federal income tax return by filing in 2021.
How to register: Registration can be done via the free Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool, available in English and Spanish on IRS’ website. Those unable to access the Non-Filers tool may submit a simplified paper return following the procedures described in the Economic Impact Payment FAQs on IRS.gov.
Receiving a letter does not guarantee a check: “The IRS reminds recipients that receiving a letter is not a guarantee of eligibility for an Economic Impact Payment,” the agency noted.
“An individual is likely eligible if he or she is a U.S. citizen or resident alien; has a work-eligible Social Security number; and can't be claimed as dependent on someone else's federal income tax return. However, there can be a variety of situations that could affect an individual's eligibility.” Again, the IRS suggests that most questions can be answered at its official website.
"Time is running out this year for the IRS to issue payments," Rettig said. "People who normally don't file a tax return shouldn't wait to see if they receive one of these letters. They can review the guidelines and register now if they're eligible."
And, don’t forget the scammers
The IRS reminds taxpayers that scammers are out in droves trying to nab one of the stimulus checks for themselves.
Of particular importance is keeping an eye out for any email, phone call, or texts related to these payments. Always remember that the IRS does not send unsolicited electronic communications asking people to open attachments, visit a website via a link, or share personal or financial information.