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Q&A: the truth about stimulus checks for those experiencing homelessness

Q&A: the truth about stimulus checks for those experiencing homelessness
By now, you’ve probably seen — or at least heard about — this March 15 Twitter post:

“I was really upset that homeless people did not have access to the $1,400 stimulus check. I just found this out. If you are homeless, you can go to a tax return office where they will file something called EIP [Economic Impact Payment] return. They will put the money on a debit card after.”The fact that the tweet has since been liked 233,000 times and retweeted 177,000 times shows that there is an enormous concern about access to these benefits for men and women experiencing homelessness.If you are experiencing homelessness, or know someone who is, find out below how to avoid missing out on the most recent stimulus payment.

Are people experiencing homeless eligible for a stimulus check?

Yes, every American who earned less than $75,000 ($150,000 for married couples) has been eligible for all three Economic ImpactPayments. That includes $1,200 last spring, $600 in December and the current round of $1,400.The only requirements are:• You are a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or qualifying resident alien;• You have a "work-eligible" Social Security number; and• You cannot be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer."For those who haven't filed a tax return or signed up previously, they remain eligible for the third stimulus payment—and can also qualify for the previous payments—by filing a 2020 tax return,” an U.S. Internal Revenue Service spokesperson told Newsweek in a recent interview.

How do homeless individuals receive stimulus payments by mail?

Of the 1,300 individuals who use Springs Rescue Mission as their mailing address and filed tax returns in 2019 or 2020, many have received or are expecting to receive paper stimulus checks in the mail or by direct deposit.Many of SRM’s guests worked with case managers to file tax returns in order to receive these benefits.

What if they didn’t file a tax return in 2019 or 2020?

There are still ways for homeless men and women to receive an Economic Impact Payment, even if they haven’t yet filed a tax return.Colorado Springs-based mental health nonprofit Another Life Foundation serves the homeless population as a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance provider. They will be on the Springs Rescue Mission campus April 1 and 8 to assist guests who have not already received the stimulus payment, ensuring that the IRS knows where and how to send their check or deposit.“Another Life Foundation has partnered with the IRS to offer free income tax preparation to community members, with a household income of $57,000 a year or less,” according to the organization’s website.Those who haven't received any stimulus funds so far could still apply to receive all three payments by filing a 2020 tax return and claiming the Recovery Rebate Credit. For those interested there are also free online tools to file taxes for anyone with less than $72,000 in income."Even if you don't have a computer, if you have a smartphone, you can access Free File online and do your tax return," according to a recent IRS statement. “If you have no taxable income, simply answer the questions including those requesting information needed to compute the Recovery Rebate Credit.”

What if they already receive social security, disability or unemployment benefits?

For individuals who currently receive supplemental income such as Social Security or Disability benefits, the stimulus payments are included in their monthly payments.

When's the deadline?

Because the federal government has pushed back the April 15 tax deadline to May 15, individuals have until then to claim their stimulus payment.

*The above article does not constitute financial or tax advice. For more information about stimulus checks or filing taxes, please contact a professional or visit the U.S. Internal Revenue Service's website.

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