Delays In Coronavirus Relief Checks Frustrating For Nevadans
Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal, by Gary Marin
Frustrated people have been calling the IRS and congressional offices, seeking an update about their delayed coronavirus relief checks.
In Nevada, lawmakers report multiple calls every day from people with difficulty navigating the Internal Revenue Service website, or in some cases receiving only partial payments for money they are eligible to receive for dependents.
“I recognize some of our country’s most vulnerable are still awaiting relief and answers,” said Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., who held a telephone town hall two weeks ago on the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak.
About 4,500 constituents took part. Of those, 59 percent said they had not received an Economic Impact Payment, and only 41 percent said they have.
Horsford’s expansive district runs from North Las Vegas to Ely and includes Pahrump and Mesquite.
The IRS reported this week that it has sent money to 88 million Americans. The agency estimated that a total of 150 million people will get a payment under the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump in March.
Nevada, with a population of about 3 million, has 892,155 residents slated to receive about $1.5 billion in Economic Impact Payments. That’s a fraction of neighboring California, which has 9.1 million residents eligible for $157 billion in relief.
Arizona has $1.8 million eligible residents who will receive $3.4 billion, and Utah has 818,700 residents slated to receive $1.6 billion.
But even while the IRS marked its progress, it has tried to improve its website and tracking tool to help the growing number of people with questions about eligibility, payment amounts and when they’ll see the money.
An elderly caller who did not identify himself in a message left with a Review-Journal reporter complained about the lack of detailed information from the IRS — and the media — to questions he has about payments for him and his wife.
“There is no information at all,” he said.
The man said the IRS tracking tool on the website blocks him from moving forward because his information doesn’t match current tax files.
A Review-Journal reporter tried the tracking tool and was also advised his information did not match records, even though the reporter filed a federal tax return for 2019 and received a refund sent by the IRS this month.
An IRS spokesperson said each case differs. IRS officials urge people to continue to visit the site, IRS.gov, which is updated every 24 hours.
Direct deposit fastest:
Most of the money distributed by the IRS so far has been deposited directly into bank accounts.
But many will receive paper checks, and that process was briefly delayed when the administration decided to put the president’s name on the checks. The first paper checks were mailed last week.
Horsford, a member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, cautioned that the task of distributing the money to eligible individuals, with roughly 5 million checks mailed each week, could take as long as 20 weeks.
IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said this week that that agency has made changes to the Get My Payment application on IRS.gov to help people add direct deposit information to expedite payment and track the arrival of their federal funds.
In some cases, couples who qualify for and have received the $2,400 total have yet to see the $500 payments for each dependent child. The IRS has encouraged those families to update their information on the website.
For now, the delays, in most cases, appear to be part of the magnitude of the task.
The IRS had two weeks to get the Economic Impact Payment program up and running, during the height of tax season, and with the coronavirus public health threats that left the agency without full staffing with workers observing precautions and social distancing.
Many states are grappling with skyrocketing unemployment claims as nonessential businesses have been shuttered.
But other than volume, staffing and the monumental task of getting the money to Americans quickly, the IRS has no simple answers for the delay in delivery, other than noting that those eligible have differing circumstances.
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Sen. Jacky Rosen, Nevada Democrats, said they were working with every member of the state’s congressional delegation to push the administration and the IRS “to get these funds as quickly as possible to the Nevadans who need it most.”
Last week, the office of Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., received about 25 calls about the payments.
Titus said millions have received their payments, “but the IRS is taking far too long to get this relief into the hands of everyone who qualifies for it.”
According to various news reports, some tax filers who used tax preparation companies or filed using tax-calculation software could see delays. In those cases, refunds might be sent to tax preparers, or be delayed because some tax software doesn’t include direct deposit information.
The IRS.gov website includes information about how to add that information. It also includes a fact sheet to answer questions about eligibility, and how those on Social Security or who have not filed a federal tax form recently because of income level can obtain an Economic Impact Payment.
An IRS spokesperson said the agency is acting quickly to get the program functioning as it was intended: “getting all this money out as soon as possible.”
“We understand the frustrations,” the spokesperson said.
Filed Under: Nevada Watch