Stimulus Update: As Many As 10 Million People Are Owed COVID Relief – Are You One?

Federal Tax Return Check with Hundred Dollar Bill.
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Government stimulus packages enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic provided financial relief to about 165 million Americans, but many still haven’t received their payments — and time is running out to claim them.

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A report released this week by the Government Accounting Office found that between 9 million and 10 million individuals have not yet received their payments, which were first sent out more than two years ago.

Taxpayers who missed the April 15, 2022 filing deadline have until Oct. 17, 2022, to file their taxes and claim any stimulus money owed. For individuals who don’t have enough income to have filed income taxes, the deadline to claim your stimulus payment is Nov. 15, 2022. In this case, you’ll just need to complete a simplified tax return to get your payment.

From April 2020 to December 2021, the U.S. government made three separate direct COVID-19 stimulus payments to Americans, totaling $931 billion. These payments mainly went to U.S. citizens with annual incomes below $75,000 or married couples with income below $150,000. The government also expanded the Child Tax Credit to boost the payment amount and include more families.

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However, the IRS and U.S. Treasury Department ran into numerous issues processing and distributing the payments, which is why millions of Americans still haven’t gotten the payments they are due.

According to the GAO, you might not have received a payment if any of these situations apply:

  • Never filed a tax return
  • Filed for the first time
  • Did not have a bank account or otherwise lacked access to banks
  • Your family has a mixed immigrant status
  • You have limited or no internet access
  • You have experienced homelessness

The IRS and Treasury Department have launched numerous outreach programs to locate Americans who have not yet received their stimulus payments, but ongoing customer service issues have impeded the effort.

Congress looks to ease the problem with a recent spending package that earmarks $80 billion for the IRS over the next 10 years, The Hill reported — the biggest boost in decades. About $33 billion of that will go toward operational support, services for payers and systems modernization.

Meanwhile, if you believe you are still owed a stimulus payment, the GAO advises visiting these IRS pages —  irs.gov/coronavirus/EIP and ChildTaxCredit.gov — to find information on how to complete and submit a tax return.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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