March 31, 2020

As Americans’ Bills Come Due, Harris Demands Treasury Dept. Send Payments ASAP

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) on Tuesday sent a letter to Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles Rettig and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin demanding the Department of the Treasury expedite payments to American families and lay out a clear timeline for the cash payments laid out in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. With April 1st approaching, Americans who are struggling financially during this crisis are in need of help to pay rent and other bills.

“The American people deserve a more precise timeframe for when they should expect their cash payments, including those who do not have direct deposit capabilities. Even before the Coronavirus, people struggled to make ends meet and will now have even more difficult decisions to make to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy. The Administration has a responsibility to provide clear information about when Americans can expect to receive the cash assistance that will be essential to covering their housing, food, and living expenses while staying in their home,” Harris wrote.

Harris continued, “We must do everything we can to offer transparency and stability to the American people during this time, which is why I ask the Administration to take into account the financial stresses people across America are experiencing during this time and make every effort to expedite payments.”

Full text of the letter can be found here and below.

March 31, 2020

The Honorable Charles P. Rettig

Commissioner

Internal Revenue Service

1111 Constitution Avenue, NW

Washington, D.C. 20224

 

The Honorable Steven T. Mnuchin

Secretary of the Treasury

U.S. Department of the Treasury

1500 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20220

 

Dear Commissioner Rettig and Secretary Mnuchin:

On March 27th the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” or the “CARES” Act was signed into law, including a provision to send cash payments of $1,200 to qualifying individuals, $2,400 to qualifying married couples, and an extra $500 for children under 17.

Millions of Americans are struggling to make ends meet.  They deserve immediate guidance on how their federal government will be sending these essential payments.  According to the Department of Labor,   almost 3.3 million Americans filed unemployment claims the week of March 21, 2020, the highest number of initial jobless claims in history. Tomorrow, these Americans and many more whose hours have been reduced, jobs have been furloughed, or who have been laid off, will have rent payments and other bills due that they will have difficulty paying.

Secretary Mnuchin said on Sunday, March 29th, “We expect that within three weeks, that people who have direct deposit information with us will see those direct deposits into their bank accounts.” The American people deserve a more precise timeframe for when they should expect their cash payments, including those who do not have direct deposit capabilities. Even before the Coronavirus, people struggled to make ends meet and will now have even more difficult decisions to make to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy. The Administration has a responsibility to provide clear information about when Americans can expect to receive the cash assistance that will be essential to covering their housing, food, and living expenses while staying in their home.

To better understand how and when the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will get these cash payments to households across the country, I ask you to provide answers to the following questions:

  • On what date will the direct deposits begin?
  • On what date will physical checks be sent in the mail?
  • When can Americans who do not have direct deposit, or those who are social security recipients, expect a check in the mail?
  • Who is being prioritized when the IRS sends cash payments?
  • Will you be prioritizing low-income individuals and families when deciding when to send direct cash payments to eligible recipients? If so, can you share what that process will entail?

Additionally, the Internal Revenue Service must create a process to provide cash assistance to individuals who did not qualify for cash payments based on their most recent tax filing, but will qualify for payments based on their current 2020 income due to the adverse impact of the pandemic, including being laid off and/or reduced hours. These individuals should be able to receive their much needed payments now as opposed to waiting until they file their tax return in spring of 2021.

We must do everything we can to offer transparency and stability to the American people during this time, which is why I ask the Administration to take into account the financial stresses people across America are experiencing during this time and make every effort to expedite payments.

I request a response to this letter no later than Friday, April 3rd. Thank you for your consideration and prompt attention to this important matter. I look forward to working with you on this issue in the near future.

Sincerely,

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