IRS rule requiring tax returns for coronavirus checks sparks pushback

The rule will require retired seniors, people drawing disability and other groups to file a 'simple' tax return in order to receive their one-time payments

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The IRS is requiring retired seniors, people drawing disability and other groups to file a “simple” tax return in order to receive their one-time payments from the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus plan.

On IRS.gov, the agency said distribution of the economic impact payments will start in the next three weeks, but cautioned that “some people who typically do not file returns will need to submit a simple tax return to receive the stimulus payment.”

The stimulus package provides one-time payments of up to $1,200 to some adults and $500 per child.

READ MORE: Trump signs historic $2.2 trillion stimulus bill amid COVID-19 crisis

US currency. (Photo: Adobe Stock)

This news didn’t go over too well for roughly 40 Democrat and Republican congressional leaders who joined forces in asking the Trump administration to eliminate this requirement.

“This filing requirement would place a significant burden on retired seniors and individuals who experience disabilities,” Richard Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, wrote in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul.

“Crucial filing resources, like Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly, are not available to provide assistance due to the COVID-19 crisis,” Neal said in the letter.

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Neal also sent off a letter to the Free File Alliance asking the group of tax preparers to work with the IRS to provide free assistance to these impacted groups, according to Fox News.

“I believe that free tax preparation assistance can go a long way in easing the burden on non-filers who may need to file a return and helping our country during this pandemic,” Neal wrote.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), agreed with Neal and is asking the IRS to clarify its stance.

“During this unprecedented time of need, requiring seniors to go through the confusing and laborious tax return filing process before receiving desperately-needed stimulus checks is unacceptable,” she wrote in a news release.

Representative Elise Stefanik, a Republican from New York, questions witnesses during a House Intelligence Committee impeachment inquiry hearing on Capitol Hill November 21, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images)

“Thousands of seniors across my district do not file tax returns because their main source of income is Social Security. North Country seniors should not have the added burden and stress of figuring out how to file tax returns before receiving the checks that Congress allocated for them. I represent one of the largest constituencies of seniors in the country, and I will continue to be their advocate. This policy must be clarified immediately.”

IRS.gov appears to have been updated to explain that “Social Security beneficiaries who are not typically required to file tax returns will not need to file to receive a payment,” however no updates have been made thus far on other groups expected to file the simple tax form.

The IRS said it will continue to update its site as more information becomes available.

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