Stimulus money: Sen. Brown worried about ‘filing requirement’ to get money

The federal building in downtown Dayton that houses the local IRS offices. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Caption
The federal building in downtown Dayton that houses the local IRS offices. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

The IRS this week announced plans to help people get their stimulus rebate checks as quickly as possible, if they have not already provided the federal government with direct deposit information.

The IRS on Monday said economic stimulus payments will go out within the next three weeks, and most people won't have to take any action to receive a check.

However, the agency said some seniors and others who typically do not file returns will need to submit a simple tax return to receive a stimulus payment.

On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and dozens of other Democratic senators called on the Treasury Department and Social Security Administration to issue stimulus payments to Social Security benefit receipients without requiring them to file a tax return.

“This [IRS] filing requirement would place a significant burden on retired seniors and individuals who experience disabilities, especially given the current unavailability of tax filing assistance from Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs during the COVID-19 crisis,” the senators wrote in a letter today to department and administration officials.

Nearly 1.5 million “elderly returns” were filed in Ohio in tax year 2017, indicating the primary taxpayer was 60 or older, according to IRS data.

More than 130,470 returns filed by taxpayers in the state were prepared by volunteers, including 77,700 prepared by Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs, IRS data show.

MORE: Coronavirus: Area workers question essential vs nonessential

In 2018, nearly 3.6 million tax filers in Ohio submitted federal returns with direct deposit information so they could quickly receive their tax refunds, according to the most recent available IRS data.

About 64% of all tax returns from the state contained direct deposit information, and nearly 90% of returns in the state were filed electronically.

The IRS will use information from Ohioans’ 2019 or 2018 federal tax returns to calculate payments and directly deposit the funds into the banking accounts listed on the returns.

Ohioans who typically do not file a tax return will need to file a simple tax return to receive payment, the IRS said.

The IRS says it will soon provide instructions on how people can file simple 2019 tax returns with information including filing status, number of dependents and direct deposit bank account information, the agency said.

The information will be at www.IRS.gov/coronavirus.

“Low-income taxpayers, senior citizens, Social Security recipients, some veterans and individuals with disabilities who are otherwise not required to file a tax return will not owe tax,” the agency said.

The IRS says Ohioans who are obligated to file a tax return for 2018 or 2019 should file as soon as possible to get a stimulus payment. They should include direct deposit banking information on the return.

But Brown says Social Security recipients should not have to file tax returns to get a direct payment.

“Along with colleagues on the House Ways and Means Committee, we strongly urge you to ensure that economic stimulus payments are automatically sent to vulnerable seniors and individuals who experience disabilities, without these individuals needing to file a tax return,” the letter from the Democratic senators states.

MORE: Despite coronavirus, dozens gather at playgrounds, courts

About the Author