Schakowsky Leads Task Force Letter Urging Fixes to Stimulus Payment Process for Seniors
WASHINGTON - Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, a Senior Chief Deputy Whip and a Co-chair of the House Democratic Task Force on Aging and Families, led a letter from the Task Force to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig and Social Security Administration Commissioner Andrew Saul. The letter highlights the problems many Seniors have faced in accessing their Economic Impact Payments issued as part of the CARES Act passed by Congress last March.
The letter reads in part:
“Our offices have heard from numerous older constituents who have not yet received their December EIP. This has been a particular issue for those who receive Social Security payments and do not regularly file taxes. For those who did not receive an EIP via mail or direct deposit, their only option to receive a payment is through filing taxes. Many seniors receiving Social Security payments have not filed taxes in years, primarily because they are not required to do so. Further, for seniors on Social Security or other limited forms of income, filing taxes through an online portal is often impossible due to unfamiliarity with the process and lack of access to a computer. Additionally, due to the pandemic, seniors in our districts have been hesitant to seek in-person help due to risk of COVID-19 transmission and lack of access.
“This is an urgent situation, particularly because the people who need stimulus money the most – seniors and low-income persons – are the very ones who cannot access the online portals, online tax filing, or in-person tax assistance. By July 2020, there was a nearly 60 percent increase in older adult food insecurity, with 13.5 percent of adults over 60 experiencing this challenge. Seniors desperately need their EIPs to pay for groceries, utilities, and rent. There must be an easier way for seniors and other vulnerable, low-income persons to receive their much-needed stimulus payments.”
The letter asks for a simplified tax form for those who are only filing taxes to claim their December stimulus check. These forms should only ask for information that is readily available and be submittable through mail or through an online portal. This online portal should be separate from the standard tax filing system. The letter also calls for the IRS to develop and support a 1-800 tax-filing helpline, particularly for seniors who are less likely to be comfortable navigating online portals. Finally, the letter requests that stimulus payments be sent as checks or direct deposits, not as Economic Impact Payment debit cards. Older Americans have reported being confused by the debit cards, thinking they might be scams and throwing them away. This further slows their ability to get their needed funds. Receiving the stimulus money via check or direct deposit is more trustworthy and easier.
A copy of the letter sent to Commissioners Rettig and Saul can be found here.