More than 160 million Americans have already received federal stimulus money, but nearly nine million are in danger of missing out on COVID-19 relief funds.  

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) authorized the IRS to send an Economic Impact Payment (EIP) to millions of eligible Americans earlier this year. Individuals received up to $1,200, and married couples received up to $2,400. People with qualifying children under age 17 at the end of 2019 got up to an additional $500 for each qualifying child. In total, over 160 million Americans have already received their EIP funds, but nearly nine million are in danger of missing out. 

Later this month, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will mail letters to the roughly nine million Americans who typically don’t file federal income tax returns and who may be eligible for, but have not registered to claim, an EIP. The letters will urge recipients to register at IRS.gov by Oct. 15 in order to receive their payment by the end of 2020.  

Banks may receive questions from customers about the validity of the letter, officially known as IRS Notice 1444-A. To help address fraud concerns, a copy of the letter is available as a PDF on IRS.gov. 

The IRS is sending the letters to individuals who haven’t filed a federal tax return for either 2018 or 2019. Based on the agency’s internal analysis, those individuals are people who typically don’t 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. However, many people in this group are still eligible to receive an EIP.  

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig called the agency’s outreach efforts “unprecedented” in the IRS press release. “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,” Rettig explained. “People who aren't required to file a tax return can quickly register on IRS.gov and still get their money this year.” 

The deadline for non-filers to claim an EIP through the Non-Filers Tool is Oct. 15, 2020. However, individuals may also wait until next year and claim their payment as a credit on their 2020 federal income tax return by filing in 2021.  

Additional Resource: IRS Economic Impact Payment Information Center