The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has launched an online tool for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients and other people who do not normally need to file tax returns to submit income information, thus creating a mechanism for them to obtain mergency relief checks.
As we recently discussed, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law by President Trump on March 27, mandates that the IRS issue one-time checks in the amount of $1,200 to individuals ($2,400 for couples who filed joint taxes). Individuals earning up to $99,000 ($198,000 for joint filers) will receive smaller stimulus checks. Families with children in the household under age 17 are entitled to additional $500 per child.
For most people, the IRS is basing recipients’ eligibility for the relief checks based on their most recent tax return, whether it’s from 2019 or 2018. However, tens of millions of low-income people—including most Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and SSI beneficiaries—do not file tax returns each year because they are not eligible for a refund due to the fact that they simultaneously lack sufficient income and employment history.
The IRS initially signaled that non-tax filers would need to file tax returns to obtain stimulus checks, sparking an outcry. Two days later, the agency reversed course as to recipients of SSDI, Social Security retirement benefits, Social Security survivor benefits, and Railroad Retirement benefits. Specifically, the IRS stated that it would be able to deposit stimulus checks directly to these individuals because they already receive annual tax forms, which, in the case of SSDI recipients are known as an SSA-1099.
However, this announcement still left SSI recipients and many other non-tax filers who are not required to file any comparable tax forms in limbo.
The IRS has now provided clarity. On April 10, the agency created a new tool, which can be accessed via this link, where SSI recipients and other non-tax filers can enter their basic information, including their name, address, Social Security number, and dependents. The IRS can then confirm their eligibility for the relief checks. Payments will then be issued by direct deposit, upon request, or by mail.
Although federal law typically prohibits SSI recipients from owning more than $2,000 in assets, the checks will not count toward that limit, according to the SSA. Relief checks will also not be taxed.