In March 2020, Congress passed the CARES Act, which authorized Economic Impact Payments (EIPs), also known as “stimulus checks,” to help provide direct economic relief to families suffering from the impacts of COVID-19.
While approximately 170 million eligible Americans nationwide have already received their EIPs, as of early September there were still nearly 800,000 Texans statewide who had not yet received their EIP. Unfortunately, many of those who have not yet received their EIP are probably those most in need. Most have annual incomes equal or less than $12,200 for single individuals, or less than $24,400 for married couples. These individuals do not need to file taxes, and therefore the IRS might not have contact information for them.
Some of these individuals might also not have access to a computer or internet to get on the IRS Non-Filer Portal to claim their payments. Others might lack a permanent address. Many are Social Security or Veterans Affairs recipients who need to access the portal in order to provide the IRS with additional information before being sent their payments. And many others are unaware or unsure about their eligibility. For example, homeless individuals and individuals who were formerly or currently incarcerated are eligible. (For the most updated guidance about EIP eligibility, visit the IRS website).
While Congress continues to negotiate another COVID-19 relief package, it is still unclear whether it would include an additional EIP for hard-working families who are struggling to put food on their table or keep a roof over their heads. In Harris County alone, there may still be tens of thousands of Texans who are still eligible to get an EIP who have not yet received one. Therefore, in the meantime, we must make sure all Americans who are eligible for an EIP under the CARES Act receive their money as soon as possible.
I strongly encourage you to check on your family, friends and neighbors, especially those without internet access, to see if they have already received their stimulus check. Offer your assistance when you can. The deadline to claim the EIP is Nov. 21 before 2 p.m. For those who miss the Nov. 21 deadline, they will have to wait until they file their 2020 taxes next year to receive their money. People in the Houston region and across the country are struggling, and we must do our part to help our neighbors.
If you or a loved one do not normally file taxes and have not yet received your EIP, please visit the IRS Non Filer Portal. You can also call your member of Congress and members of our staff will work to answer your questions. To find out who is your member of Congress, please visit Find Your Representative or call 202-224-3121. We are here to help during these difficult times.
Together, we will overcome this virus because we are Houston Strong!
Garcia is the U.S. Representative for Texas’ 29th congressional district.