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IRS to Mail Special Letters to Non-Filers

The IRS has announced that it will start mailing letters to roughly nine million Americans who typically do not file federal income tax returns who may be eligible for, but have not registered to claim, an Economic Impact Payment.

The letters will urge recipients to register at www.irs.gov by October 15 in order to receive their payment by the end of the year. Individuals can receive up to $1,200, and married couples can receive up to $2,400. People with qualifying children under age 17 at the end of 2019 can get up to an additional $500 for each qualifying child.

The letters are being sent to people who have not filed a return for either 2018 or 2019. Based on an internal analysis, these are people who do not typically have a tax return filing requirement because they appear to have very low incomes, based on Forms W-2, 1099s and other third-party statements available to the IRS. Many in this group are still eligible to receive an Economic Impact Payment.

“The IRS has made an unprecedented outreach effort to make sure people are aware of their potential eligibility for an Economic Impact Payment this year,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Millions who don’t normally file a tax return have already registered and received a payment. We are taking this extra step to help Americans who may not know they could be eligible for this payment or don’t know how to register for one. People who aren’t required to file a tax return can quickly register on www.irs.gov and still get their money this year.”

The letter, officially known as IRS Notice 1444-A, is written in English and Spanish and includes information on eligibility criteria and how eligible recipients can claim an Economic Impact Payment on www.irs.gov. The mailing, which will begin around September 24, will be delivered from an IRS address. To help address fraud concern, a copy of the letter is available on www.irs.gov.

If those receiving letters have not done so already, the letter urges eligible individuals to register by October 15 for a payment by using the free “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here” tool, available in English and Spanish and only on www.irs.gov. More than seven million people have used the Non-Filers tool so far to register for a payment. Those unable to access the Non-Filers tool may submit a simplified paper return following the procedures described in the Economic Impact Payment FAQs on www.irs.gov.

Receiving a letter is not a guarantee of eligibility for an Economic Impact Payment. An individual is likely eligible if he or she is a U.S. citizen or resident alien, has a work-eligible Social Security number, and cannot be claimed as dependent on someone else’s federal income tax return. However, there can be a variety of situations that could affect an individual’s eligibility.

The registration deadline for non-filers to claim an Economic Impact Payment through the Non-Filers tool is October 15, 2020. People can also wait until next year and claim it as a refundable credit on their 2020 federal income tax.

Author’s Comment: Non-filers who receive Social Security and other federal benefits were supposed to automatically receive their Economic Impact Payment in the same manner as they receive their federal benefits. The nine million non-filers who will be receiving these letters are those who do not receive Social Security or other federal benefits. A married couple with no children earning $22,000 in 2019 from a W-2 job would be below the filing requirement but earn too much to qualify for the Earned Income Credit. Assuming no federal taxes were withheld, they would not have needed to file a 2019 federal income tax return.