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Sep 17, 2020
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Americans continue to wait for Congress to agree on the terms of a second stimulus bill, as Democrats and Republicans are still divided on the size and scope of an aid package. In the meantime, up to 9 million people still haven’t received their first direct payment that was authorized by the CARES Act.

Time is running out to register to get a stimulus check if you don’t file federal income taxes. To remind you to do so by the Oct. 15 deadline, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is preparing to mail letters to about 9 million people who may be eligible to get an Economic Impact Payment.

Letters are expected to be mailed starting around Sept. 24. A copy of the letter is available online via the IRS https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/n1444aes.pdf to help recipients distinguish it from a potential fraud.

The CARES Act authorized direct payments of up to $1,200 per adult and up to $500 per qualifying child. Most people who filed income tax returns for 2018 or 2019 received their payments this spring because their payment was based on their most recent tax return.

“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,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig in a release. “People who aren’t required to file a tax return can quickly register on IRS.gov and still get their money this year.”

You don’t have to wait for a letter to check if you’re eligible for a payment. At any time through Oct. 15, you can visit the IRS Economic Impact Payments portal to enter your non-filer payment information. If you’re eligible for a payment, you can choose to receive it by direct deposit or a mailed check.

Once the Oct. 15 deadline passes, you’ll have to file a federal income tax return in order to claim any stimulus funds to which you are entitled. If you were supposed to file a federal income tax return in 2019 but have not done so, you can file a tax return electronically (and most likely for free) to expedite your eligibility determination. But keep in mind that you may be responsible for late fees or penalties if you owe taxes for 2019.

If you aren’t required to file a federal income tax return and you miss the Oct. 15 deadline, you may choose to file a 2020 tax return next spring to potentially claim a tax credit.

The IRS has issued about 160 million Economic Impact Payments since distribution began in April, the agency reported.

In Washington, the Senate rejected a GOP “skinny” aid bill last week that did not provide a second round of stimulus checks. A proposal from the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus in the House of Representatives this week includes direct payments, but is unlikely to see a vote. Caucus leaders presented it with the intent to reignite negotiation between Democrats and Republicans, they said.
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