Houlahan: IRS Must Act Quickly to Disburse Economic Impact Payments to PA-06 Families
Washington, August 27, 2020
Tags: Jobs & Economy
WASHINGTON – Today, Representative Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), along with 128 of her colleagues, wrote to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requesting improvements to the Economic Impact Payments (EIPs, also known as “rebates” or “stimulus payments”) authorized in the bipartisan CARES Act. For months, Houlahan has heard from frustrated constituents who are counting on this relief to pay their bills.
“When Congress passed the CARES Act, our intent was to get relief quickly to the families that need it most,” said Houlahan. “The way that the IRS has administered this program has failed to meet that objective for many in my community, and we need to do better. I’m calling on the IRS to make some reasonable changes that will help address some of the issues I’ve heard about most frequently.”
According to the IRS website, U.S citizens and legal permanent residents are eligible to receive an Economic Impact Payment of $1,200 if filing individually or $2,400 if filing jointly, if they are not a dependent of another taxpayer, with adjusted gross income up to:
The letter asks the IRS to:
“Dear Commissioner Rettig:
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was a bipartisan bill whose goal was to send critical funding for Americans to pay basic bills during the pandemic. To underscore that objective, our offices ask the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to ensure every American receives their full Economic Impact Payment (EIP) this calendar year. While we recognize the unprecedented endeavor the IRS has been tasked with completing, countless families in our districts desperately need this funding. It is imperative EIPs are properly dispersed as outlined in the CARES Act and done so in the most timely and efficient manner. Our offices suggest the following steps for a more efficient and swift dispersal of EIP.
First, the IRS should promptly issue supplementary payments to Americans whose recently-filed 2019 returns make them eligible for larger EIPs. The initial advice given by your agency stated the filing of a 2019 tax return would be the most reliable way for individuals and families to receive their EIP. However, the IRS recently clarified that, if it used an individual’s 2018 tax return to determine eligibility (or lack thereof) when the EIP was scheduled in the spring, the IRS would not reissue a payment when that individual subsequently filed a 2019 tax return. Americans who qualify for larger payments based on their timely-filed 2019 return are being told that they must wait until 2021 to receive their full EIP amount. In addition, because the IRS shut down processing centers in March for health and safety reasons, those constituents who filed a paper tax return early in the filing season faced a months-long backlog in processing their 2019 tax return, meaning that, despite their best efforts to provide the IRS more recent information, their EIP eligibility was calculated based on an older return. In short, constituents who have complied with tax deadlines and followed IRS guidance should not be penalized and forced to wait until next year for emergency assistance they desperately need. The IRS has the information it needs to make supplemental payments now.
Second, the agency can provide improved assistance to the public and to caseworkers in Congressional offices who are working hard to answer requests from constituents. We believe this could alleviate many of the issues our constituents are facing. Currently, it can take as much as nine weeks to receive a response to questions sent to the Congressional inquiry inbox. In many situations, these responses do not address the issue constituents are facing and do not result in the constituent obtaining clarity on their EIP. A dedicated telephone line for Congressional staffers would streamline cases and promote more efficient communication.
Finally, the IRS should increase the number of trained staff who can provide account updates to constituents when they call the IRS EIP phone line. Currently, constituents report they are facing hours-long wait times to speak to a live representative, only to find out the representative cannot assist them with their account. Increasing the number of IRS staff who can provide account-specific assistance would immediately help constituents. These trained individuals could also be available to speak to caseworkers through the Congressional EIP phone line outlined above.
Our offices and your agency share the common goal of providing the American people the funds they are entitled to under the CARES Act. Our staff are ready to work with your staff to meet the goals outlined. Please see us as a resource. We urge your agency to expand Congressional assistance with EIP inquiries and to implement the suggestions above.
Working together we can meet the needs of the American public during this unprecedented time.
Thank you for your timely attention to these matters.”