STIMULUS CHECKS 

Stimulus check for non-filers: am I eligible if I didn't file a tax return?

There may be around 9 million people who are qualified to get a stimulus check who haven’t yet received one because they don't file tax returns.  Here’s what to know. 

Stimulus check for non-filers: am I eligible if I didn't file a tax return?
Nicky Loh REUTERS

The House recently passed a new relief bill however progress is moving in fits and starts depending on the mercurial mood of the President and both sides holding to lines in the sand. Part of that bill would include a new round of stimulus checks but there are still those who haven’t benefited from the first round of payments approved back in March. In an effort to help those who are suffering financially in the current economic crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic the IRS has been moving back deadlines for getting that aid.

It's time to act

A new extension to apply for Economic Impact Payment (EIP) or commonly referred to as the stimulus check has been given to those who haven’t yet received a first stimulus payment. Created as part of the CARES Act passed in March, not everyone is eligible for a stimulus check but if you haven’t filed a tax return for 2018 and 2019 then you may have slipped through the cracks and still have a shot at getting your stimulus payment. It will require supplying the IRS with some information before 21 November, and the IRS recommends doing it soon as they will be coming up against the new tax season and don't want to overlap, i.e. don't expect more extensions.

The deadline was previously 15 October but on Monday the IRS announced that it was extending the deadline by five weeks for a group known as “non-filers”.  If you filed for an extension for you 2019 tax return you must still meet the 15 October deadline.

What is a “Non-Filer” i.e. people who normally don’t file a tax return

  • People earning less than $12,200 single filer, $24,400 for joint filers
  • People who receive no income
  • Those receiving Social Security retirement, disability (SSDI), survivor benefits
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients
  • Recipients of Veterans Affairs Compensation and Pension (C&P) benefits
  • Individuals who receive Railroad Retirement (RRB) benefits

A letter in the mail

The IRS began sending out a letter in September to around 9 million non-filers who weren’t required to file a federal tax return for 2018 and 2019. The letters were posted to the last address it had for those individuals. Those people may be unaware that they need to submit a form with the IRS to claim the stimulus benefit whereas the IRS was able to use the information on file to send out earlier payments for those that had filed. The letter gives the previous date of 15 October, now changed, and receiving the letter does not guarantee eligibility for payment.

Who is eligible to receive a stimulus check? 

U.S. citizens, permanent residents and qualifying resident aliens who:

  • Have a valid Social Security number,
  • Could not be claimed as a dependent of another taxpayer, and
  • Had adjusted gross income under certain limits.

The IRS will never contact taxpayers  via email or telephone for any reason. Follow this link to see the 1444-A letter the IRS sent out in English and Spanish.

In the letter the IRS have provided a link to a Non-Filers tool where you will have to submit your information in order to claim your benefit. If you didn’t file for 2019 and were supposed to you will need to file electronically right away.  For any other doubts the check the IRS's Frequently Asked Questions or call their hotline at 800-919-9835.