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The IRS is looking for millions of Americans who haven’t claimed their stimulus checks

Published Sep 21st, 2020 1:23PM EDT
Stimulus check
Image: Pamela Au/Adobe
  • Most Americans won’t be getting a new stimulus check anytime soon, thanks to the fact that Congress has been unable to reach an agreement on the specifics of what new coronavirus relief legislation should entail.
  • Meanwhile, there are still several million Americans who have yet to take the necessary action required in order to claim their first stimulus check.
  • That first stimulus check is the one made possible by the $2.2 trillion CARES Act that Congress passed back at the end of March, at the outset of the coronavirus crisis in the US.

For all the talk, debate in Congress, and news coverage about whether or not Americans may get a new stimulus check soon — emphasis on the “not,” since Republicans and Democrats remain at an impasse over what benefits a new stimulus accord should entail — that all obscures one fact that might surprise you.

Several million people apparently still haven’t claimed their first stimulus check — the one funded by money appropriated by Congress as part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act that was passed way back at the end of March. This news comes in tandem with a state-by-state breakdown released by the Internal Revenue Service showing the number of people around the country who for whatever reason haven’t taken action to claim their stimulus check, which includes some pretty big numbers overall. For example, almost 5% of the entire population of Washington DC hasn’t claimed its stimulus check yet, according to the new IRS numbers, and the same goes for 4.2% of the population of the state of Alaska.

The state-by-state breakdown is available here, and it shows that more than 8.8 million Americans still need to take action to obtain the stimulus check they’re owed. To that end, the IRS says it will be mailing out letters starting this week encouraging people to check and make sure to claim their stimulus payment if they haven’t already.

The letters are being sent out to people who usually aren’t required to file federal income tax returns, and it will encourage recipients to visit the “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here” tool at before October 15 in order to register for their payment.

“We are releasing this state-by-state information so that state and local leaders and organizations can better understand the size of this population in their communities and assist them in claiming these important payments,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Time is running out to claim a payment before the deadline.”

This month’s letters are being sent specifically to people who haven’t filed a tax return for either 2018 or 2019, and the IRS’ internal analysis shows that “these are people who don’t typically have a tax return filing requirement because they appear to have very low incomes based on Forms W-2 and 1099, and other third-party statements available to the IRS.”

As a reminder, the CARES Act provided for stimulus checks to most Americans totaling as much as $1,200 for individuals, as well as up to $2,400 for married couples. People with qualifying children under age 17 at the end of 2019 can also get up to an additional $500 for each child.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.

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