April 2, 2020

Following Calls from Reed, Whitehouse, and Colleagues, Treasury Reverses Course and Says Social Security Beneficiaries Do Not Need to File Tax Returns to Receive COVID-19 Direct Cash Assistance

Washington, D.C. – Following calls from Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and their colleagues, the U.S. Treasury Department has announced that Social Security recipients will automatically receive direct cash assistance included in the CARES Act without having to file tax returns.

Yesterday, the Senators raised alarms over guidance that the IRS issued earlier this week that said Social Security beneficiaries would need to file tax returns in order to receive direct cash payments.  This directly contradicted Congressional intent in drafting the CARES Act, which had made clear that the Treasury Department had the authority to send automatic direct cash assistance to Social Security beneficiaries regardless of whether they file taxes.

“This [IRS] filing requirement would place a significant burden on retired seniors and individuals who experience disabilities, especially given the current unavailability of tax filing assistance from Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs during the COVID-19 crisis,” the Senators wrote yesterday in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul.  “We strongly urge you to ensure that economic stimulus payments are automatically sent to vulnerable seniors and individuals who experience disabilities, without these individuals needing to file a tax return.”



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