IRS offers tool for nonfilers to get stimulus payments for coronavirus

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The Internal Revenue Service introduced an online tool on its website to help people who don’t normally file their taxes receive their stimulus payments sooner in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The nonfiler tool, which was developed through a partnership between the IRS and the Free File Alliance, offers a simple way for people who don’t make enough income to have the obligation to file a tax return every year, such as senior citizens, to receive the “economic impact payments,” such s senior citizens and those with too little income to file. The feature is available only on IRS.gov, and users should look for Non-filers: Enter Payment Info Here to take them directly to the tool.

“People who don’t have a return filing obligation can use this tool to give us basic information so they can receive their Economic Impact Payments as soon as possible,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig (pictured) in a statement Friday. “The IRS and Free File Alliance have been working around the clock to deliver this new tool to help people.”

Economic impact payments of at least $1,200 will be distributed automatically to most people to help them get through the coronavirus crisis, and the IRS began directly depositing the first batch of them Saturday. Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for 2019 or 2018 will receive the payments automatically, but they will arrive sooner for those who filled out their direct deposit information with the IRS. Otherwise they will be sent by mail. Automatic payments will also go in the near future to those receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits and Railroad Retirement benefits, according to the IRS.

The tool asks for basic information including the person’s Social Security number, name, address and dependents. The IRS will use the information to confirm eligibility and calculate and send an economic impact payment. Using the tool to get a payment will not result in any taxes being owed. Entering bank or financial account information will allow the IRS to deposit the payment directly in the person’s account. Otherwise, the payment will be mailed out.

The IRS said the information entered will be secure. However, cybersecurity expert Brian Krebs warned Friday on his blog Krebs on Security that the tool is so simple to use that it could enable fraudsters and identity thieves to intercept the stimulus payments and direct them to their own bank accounts.

“In this case, fraudsters would simply need to identify the personal information for a pool of Americans who don’t normally file tax returns, which may well include a large number of people who are disabled, poor or simply do not have easy access to a computer or the Internet,” he wrote. “Armed with this information, the scammers need only provide the target’s name, address, date of birth and Social Security number, and then supply their own bank account information to claim at least $1,200 in electronic payments.”

To help everybody check on the status of their payments, the IRS is building a second new tool that’s expected to be available later this week. The Get My Payment tool will tell people about the status of their economic impact payment, including the date their payment is scheduled to be deposited into their bank account or mailed to them. Another feature of the Get My Payment tool will give eligible people a chance to provide their bank account information so they can receive their payment more quickly instead of waiting for a paper check, which may take months. This feature will be unavailable if the economic impact payment has already been scheduled for delivery. Krebs warned this tool could also be exploited by identity thieves to allow them to redirect the funds to their own bank account.

The IRS said the Get My Payment app can’t update bank account information after an economic impact payment has been scheduled for delivery, and to help protect against potential fraud, the tool also doesn’t allow people to change bank account information that’s already on file with the IRS. The Get My Payment app will work on any desktop, phone or tablet, and doesn’t need to be downloaded from an app store. For taxpayers to track the status of their payment, they will need to enter their Social Security number, date of birth and mailing address. If they want to add their bank account information to hasten receipt of their payment, they need to provide the adjusted gross income from their most recent tax return submitted, for either 2019 or 2018, along with the refund or amount owed from their latest filed tax return, and the bank account type, account and routing numbers.

The tool that is available now for nonfilers is designed for those who didn’t file a tax return for 2018 or 2019 and who don’t receive Social Security retirement or disability benefits or Railroad Retirement benefits. Others who should consider the Non-Filers tool as an option, include lower-income people who are under the normal income limits for filing a tax return. That includes single filers who made under $12,200 and married couples making less than $24,400 in 2019.

Veterans beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients may also be able to receive the payments through the new tool. The IRS said it’s continuing to explore ways to see if economic impact payments can be sent automatically to SSI recipients and those who receive veterans disability compensation, pension or survivor benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs and who didn’t file a tax return for the 2018 or 2019 tax years. People in these groups can either use the nonfiler tool now or wait as the IRS continues to review automatic payment options to simplify delivery for these groups.

Social Security, SSDI and Railroad Retirement beneficiaries with qualifying dependents will also be able to receive the payments. They will automatically receive $1,200 economic impact payments. Those who have qualifying children under age 17 may use Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info to claim the $500 payment per child.

However, some will not be eligible to benefit from the tool, such as students. If someone else such as a parent claimed them on a tax return, they won’t be eligible for an economic impact payment or using the nonfiler tool.

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IRS Coronavirus Tax season Charles "Chuck" Rettig Tax relief
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