CORONAVIRUS

Stimulus check US: millions at risk of missing out on payment

Recent research has shown that as many as 12 million low-income Americans are in danger of not receiving their payment, despite being eligible.

Stimulus check US: millions at risk of missing out on payment
CHIP SOMODEVILLA / AFP

As part of the CARES Act, a $2.2-trillion coronavirus relief package passed in March, millions of Americans have been receiving stimulus checks to help them cope with the financial effects of a pandemic that has left the United States’ unemployment rate at 13.3% - some 10% higher than in February.

159 million stimulus checks sent out to people in US

Since mid-April, Economic Impact Payments of up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for joint tax filers have been distributed to qualifying Americans via direct deposit, paper check or, as of May, prepaid debit cards. Households have also been getting an additional $500 credit per dependent under the age of 17.

159 million stimulus checks, worth a total of almost $267 billion, have so far been processed, according to the most recent figures released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the US Treasury Department.

Low earners may not be on IRS' radar

According to recent research by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, however, around 12 million low earners who do not have to file a tax return are at risk of not getting their payment, because the IRS may not be aware of them. Individuals on less than $12,000 a year and married couples with a combined income under $24,000 do not have to submit a return in the US.

The IRS has been automatically sending stimulus checks to most eligible people who filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019, or who claim Social Security, Railroad Retirement, Supplemental Security Income or veterans' benefits. But Americans who neither file a return nor are registered for benefits may not be in the system when it comes to receiving a check. If so, they need to take action.

Non-Filers tool available until 15 October

To register for their Economic Impact Payment, they need to go to the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here portal on the IRS website, and fill out information including their full name, current postal address, email address, date of birth, Social Security number and bank details.

The deadline to apply for payment via the Non-Filers tool is 15 October, the IRS has said.

Live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic

As of Thursday evening CEST, the coronavirus pandemic had led to 2,173,804 registered cases and 118,029 deaths in the United States, which has been by far the worst-affected country in the world. You can stay up-to-date with the latest Covid-19 developments in the US by reading our America-focused live blog.