April 24, 2020

Hirono, Colleagues Urge Treasury to Provide Families with Direct Payments as Soon as Possible

Letter Responds to IRS Decision to Give Families Less Than 48 Hours to Provide Additional Information to Secure $500 Per Dependent Child

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) joined Senators Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and more than 30 of their colleagues to call for the U.S. Treasury Department (Treasury) and the Social Security Administration to guarantee that families who do not normally file taxes but have dependent children will not have to wait until next year to receive their additional direct payments for those children.

On Monday, Treasury announced that families who receive Social Security retiree and disability benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments, and Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, and do not normally file federal income taxes, would need to provide their information to the IRS by Wednesday to receive their additional direct payments of $500 per dependent child before the end of the year.

Senator Hirono has continued to work with her Senate colleagues to make sure these families automatically receive their direct payments from the IRS, and joined this effort after calling for those who qualify for the additional $500 to apply before the deadline earlier this week.

“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,” the Senators wrote.

In addition to Senators Hirono, Hassan, Brown, Bennet, and Booker, the letter was signed by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Angus King (I-Maine), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.).

The letter can be found here and 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.

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