Five million Americans who were hit hardest by the current health and economic crisis risk missing out on $6 billion in CARES Act stimulus payments if they don’t file the required online form before October 15. We all have a vital role to play in helping them access their $1,200 payments, which are crucial for them to meet their basic needs during the recession.
More than 160 million Americans received stimulus payments automatically, but 12 million people who don’t file taxes or receive Social Security Administration or Veterans Affairs benefits need to fill out an IRS form that requires internet access, computer access, an understanding of tax terminology, and a mailing address or direct deposit information. So far, more than 7 million people have used the IRS portal, but barriers have prevented 5 million others — especially the most marginalized — from claiming the payment.
The group that didn’t automatically receive payments includes people with very low incomes, people long disconnected from work opportunities, people of color, and people lacking secure housing. People experiencing homelessness are especially at risk of missing out. The stimulus payments represent a significant sum of money for these people at a time of widespread economic instability.
Thousands of groups, including a nationwide network of free tax filing preparation sites, are working hard to help everyone claim their payment, such as by providing information and resources online, creating a hotline to answer questions, and helping people experiencing homelessness fill out the form with laptops. But states, municipal leaders, community organizations, local agencies, businesses, and individuals can also help — and they don’t need tax expertise to do so.
You can use the Get It Back Campaign’s 30-day outreach plan as a template, adapting it to your capabilities to create a strategy for conducting outreach efforts that you can realistically achieve before October 15. This guide is a part of a suite of outreach resources that includes customizable social media graphics and posts, an email template, blog template, press release template, and information flyer. CBPP also has a toolkit in English and Spanish with resources to support state outreach to non-filers eligible for stimulus payments.
Virtual sources of support are also available for anyone who has more questions or needs other support through the process. Code for America’s Get Your Refund service takes clients through the IRS form online and United Way’s 211 EIP Helpline (1-844-322-3639) provides live assistance to help people complete the form and answer questions about eligibility.
We have just 30 days left to help people access their $1,200 payment. Let’s get started!