In Washington DC, lawmakers are working on a second batch of stimulus checks for another coronavirus rescue bill.
In Blairstown, NJ, Frank Natoli is scratching his head upon hearing the news of the negotiations.
“My first reaction was, ‘Second what? What about the first?’,” the 68-year-old software engineer told MarketWatch.
The Internal Revenue Service has already distributed approximately 160 million economic impact payments, totaling $270 billion since April, according to the statement made by the Commissioner late June. But some people like Natoli and his wife are still waiting for their share.
When Natoli uses the IRS “Get My Payment” portal, the only status he keeps getting is “Payment Status Not Available”. The response says that IRS doesn’t have enough information about Natoli’s case or that he’s not eligible.
Both replies are wrong, Natoli says.
He and his wife receive social security benefits and are under the $150,000 threshold needed to receive the check of $1,200 for each. They have filed the taxes for 2018 and 2019, like many years before that. He electronically-filed returns and included bank account information for 2018, but not 2019. Natoli already received a paper check for his 2019 refund.
Frustrated, he called the IRS last week, stayed on hold for almost 15 minutes, and finally the representative told me him to call back after October 15 if things had not changed. The call agent “volunteered that date and he did not offer any explanation what was magical about that,” Natoli said.
The representative was not surprised at all to hear about his experience, Natoli said.
Natoli said that he can understand the delay because the IRS is now dealing with millions of payments, all while processing tax returns on a tight schedule during the pandemic. He is grateful for the reason that he is still working at a time of double digit unemployment rate and acknowledges that this money was not a financial lifeline for him.
“I accept the delay. I do not accept the fact I cannot get accurate information as to the status.”
Natoli’s neighbors are also waiting for their payments and so are his friends, one of whom has retired after working in Federal law enforcement.
By early June, the IRS still needed to pay out between 30 and 35 million checks, according to the House Ways and Means Committee. That sum included payments for 13 to 18 million people.
“Almost two months later, Treasury appears to have made little progress towards issuing the remaining payments,” according to a July 27 letter from Representative Richard Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat chairing the committee, and Senator Ron Wyden, the top-ranking Democrat in the Senate Finance Committee.
From early June to late July, the IRS had made fewer than 1.5 million additional stimulus payments, which, one of the pair said was “unacceptable”. They urged “immediate and decisive action” to make the outstanding payments, because “Americans cannot wait any longer for the emergency assistance they were told would arrive in the spring.”
Fourteen percent of households making under $50,000 have not received their stimulus payment yet, according to a 2,252-sample survey by Prosperity Now, a research and policy organization, conducted between June and July.
The IRS didn’t give any immediate response to a request for their comment, but in late June, Charles Rettig, the tax collector’s commissioner, said the agency was focused on the pending amount of mailed-in tax returns and getting refund checks to those filers.
Another issue the IRS was paying attention to is getting stimulus checks for homeless people, under-served communities, and people who don’t have to file taxes, who might otherwise miss their chances of receiving the checks that they deserve, according to Rettig.
What people should do if they are still waiting:
- Sometimes it makes sense to ask for help from lawyers
- Call your local Congressional representative
- Take help from the Taxpayer Advocate Service