May 20, 2021
Good afternoon VITA partners,
I am reaching out to you today because you have graciously offered to assist with previous outreach that the IRS has conducted ensuring that as many taxpayers as possible are aware of the recent changes and tax implications. Thank you for assisting again if you are able. If you determine that you can assist with our outreach efforts, please respond to me with the method used and estimated size of the audience for the distribution of any materials. Thank you in advance for your assistance with this outreach event.
We need your help reaching eligible individuals who need to take action to get Economic Impact Payments (EIP). While the information provided here is lengthy, it is very important. Please share this information with your contacts, both internal and external, during meetings, via e-mail, through social media and on your websites. You’ll also find links to multilingual IRS materials at the end of this message; please share them in your community.
3rd Economic Impact Payment
The IRS is currently issuing a 3rd EIP to every eligible American. EIPs, also known as stimulus payments, are different from most other tax benefits; people can get the payments even if they have little or no income and even if they do not usually file a tax return. This is true as long as they have a Social Security number and are not being supported by someone else who can claim them as a dependent.
Please help us reach individuals who do not normally file a tax return because they do not have enough income requiring them to file. We are especially trying to reach people experiencing homelessness and those who are unbanked. They will need to provide information to the IRS to get this 3rd payment. While these payments continue to be made automatically to most people, the IRS cannot issue a payment to eligible Americans when information about them is not available in the tax agency’s systems.
People who did not receive the first two EIP payments can still qualify for those payments when they file their 2020 return by claiming the Recovery Rebate Credit. There is a special section on IRS.gov that can help: Claiming the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit if you are not required to file a tax return.
More people qualify for the 3rd EIP than earlier payments. Here’s what is different:
- Payment amounts. Most families will get $1,400 per person, including all eligible dependents claimed on their tax return.
- Qualifying dependents. Not restricted to children under 17. Eligible individuals will get a payment based on all their qualifying dependents claimed on their return.
- Taxpayers who file using an ITIN may be eligible to receive a third payment for their qualifying dependent. Up to $1,400 per qualified dependent who has a valid SSN can be received if the taxpayer does not have a valid SSN but meets all the other eligibility and income requirements.
Getting the payment
- The IRS will use available information to determine eligibility and issue the 3rd payment to eligible people who:
- Filed a 2020 tax return
- Filed a 2019 tax return if the 2020 tax return has not been submitted or processed yet
- Did not file a 2020 or 2019 tax return but registered for the first EIP payment with the Non-Filers tool in 2020
- Are federal benefit recipients who do not usually file a tax return.
NOTE: If none of the above applies, the individual will need to file a 2020 federal tax return.
The former IRS non-filer tool is no longer available. Individuals who do not normally file a return will need to file a 2020 tax return to receive this 3rd EIP.
The Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit
For people experiencing homelessness who have a job, filing a return often carries a bonus —getting a refund based on various tax benefits, especially the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for low- and moderate-income workers and working families.
The EITC is for workers who do not earn a high income. Like many other workers, some workers experiencing homelessness earned too little income during 2020 to owe tax but still qualify for the credit. For 2020, the income limit is $56,844. Those who make less than this amount must also meet other eligibility requirements.
Because it is a refundable credit, those who qualify and claim the credit could pay less federal tax, pay no tax, or even get a tax refund. The EITC can put up to $6,660 into a worker’s pocket. The amount varies depending upon the worker’s income, marital status, and other factors.
The IRS recognizes that eligible workers experiencing homelessness often encounter unique challenges not faced by other people.
To find out if they’re eligible, people can use the EITC Assistant on IRS.gov.
Taxpayers with children may also be eligible for the Child Tax Credit. Some people will be able to get advance payments of the child tax credit later this year. Those who qualify for advance payments just need to file a 2020 tax return.
Help spread the word
Employers can help by making their employees aware of the 3rd EIP, 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit, EITC and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and encouraging them to file for these benefits based on tax year 2020 rules. In addition, the American Rescue Plan, enacted in March 2021, expands EITC and the CTC benefits for the 2021 tax year. Some people will be able to get advance payments of the CTC later this year. There is nothing those who qualify need to do at this point other than file a 2020 tax return based on current law.
Challenges and Resources for the Homeless
Some individuals may not have internet capability, a bank account, or a permanent address and may need assistance claiming their EIP payment.
Permanent address not required
People can claim an Economic Impact Payment or other credits even if they don’t have a permanent address. For example, someone experiencing homelessness may list the address of a friend, relative or trusted service provider, such as a shelter, drop-in day center or transitional housing program, on the return filed with the IRS. If they are unable to choose direct deposit, a check for the tax refund and a check or debit card for the 3rd EIP can then be mailed to this address. Also, free post office boxes may be available by applying to the local post office. The postal service also has “General Delivery” mail service for people without a permanent address.
Homeless shelter counts as a home
A worker experiencing homelessness can get EITC. To get the credit, federal law requires that a worker live in the U.S. for more than half of the year and meet other requirements. This means living in a home in any of the 50 states or the District of Columbia. Therefore, individuals experiencing homelessness, including those who reside at one or more homeless shelters, can meet that requirement.
Options for people without a bank account for direct deposit
Many financial institutions will help a person lacking an account to open a low-cost or no-cost bank account. Individuals who open accounts will then have an account and routing number available when they file and claim a direct deposit of the EIP payment.
Please visit the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) website for details, in both English and Spanish, on opening an account online. Among other things, people can also use the FDIC’s BankFind tool to locate a nearby FDIC-insured bank. In addition, BankOn, American Bankers Association, Independent Community Bankers of America, National Credit Union Administration have all compiled lists of banks and credit unions that can open an account online.
For veterans, see the Veterans Benefits Banking Program (VBBP) for access to financial services at participating banks.
For those with a prepaid debit card, they may be able to have their refund applied to the card. Many reloadable prepaid cards or mobile payment apps have account and routing numbers that can be provided to the IRS. Individuals would need to check with the financial institution to ensure the card can be used and to obtain the routing number and account number, which may be different from the card number.
File for free
The fastest and easiest way to get the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit and EITC or to get the third EIP payment is to file a return electronically using IRS Free File. People can use a smartphone or computer to visit IRS.gov and click the File Your Taxes for Free link.
Through the Free File system, anyone who qualifies for the EITC also qualifies to use brand-name software to prepare and electronically file their return for free. The IRS urges anyone experiencing homelessness who has access to a smartphone or computer to take advantage of this service.
Refund and payment status
People can check the status of their tax refund using Where’s My Refund? at IRS.gov or call 800-829-1954 for automated refund information. They can check the status of their third Economic Impact Payment using Get My Payment on IRS.gov. IRS phone assistors do not have more information than what is available in this online tool.
More information and partner materials
For more information on pandemic relief, see IRS.gov/coronavirus. Please follow IRS social media accounts for the latest information that the IRS shares and see the sample social media messages attached. The IRS has additional marketing materials and answers to frequently asked questions at IRS.gov/eippartners, including the following e-posters:
- Publication 5515, Third Economic Impact Payments for Americans experiencing homelessness (English | Spanish)
- Publication 5515-A, Stimulus payments for the Homeless (English | Spanish)
We appreciate your help in sharing this important information. Please let me know how I can support you in this effort.
- Americans experiencing homelessness may still qualify for Economic Impact Payments and other tax benefits, but the #IRS needs information from people who don’t usually file a tax return. Help spread the word: https://go.usa.gov/xHWV7 #COVIDreliefIRS
- People don’t need a permanent address or a bank account to get Economic Impact Payments and other tax benefits, but the #IRS needs information from people who don’t usually file a tax return. Help spread the word: https://go.usa.gov/xHWV7 #COVIDreliefIRS
- Americans experiencing homelessness have free options to claim the 3rd Economic Impact Payments and the Recovery Rebate Credit, if they don’t normally file taxes with #IRS and haven’t received any payments yet: http://go.usa.gov/xsm7B #COVIDreliefIRS
- No bank account? People experiencing homelessness can still get Economic Impact Payments and other tax benefits. See tips from #IRS on using prepaid cards or opening low- or no-cost accounts at http://go.usa.gov/xsm7B #COVIDreliefIRS
- Those experiencing homelessness can get Economic Impact Payments and other tax benefits. #IRS recognizes there are unique challenges in these circumstances, but one way is using a #IRSFreeFile from smartphone or computer. www.irs.gov/freefile