The Internal Revenue Service continues to send out Economic Impact Payments (EIPs), aimed at helping Americans though these tough economic times. But how can the agency fulfill its mission if the citizens who need the help most—the homeless and the rural poor—don’t have permanent addresses?
The IRS is relying on a team approach to tackle the problem.
People in these under-served groups may be eligible for an EIP—but they can't be issued a payment when the IRS doesn't have their information. So, the agency is asking "community groups, employers, and others to share information about Economic Impact Payments and help more eligible people file a tax return so they can receive everything they're entitled to."
IRS Commissioner Chuck Retting says his agency is working "directly with groups inside and outside the tax community to get information directly to people experiencing homelessness and other groups to help them receive Economic Impact Payments."
People can get Economic Impact Payments even if they have little or no income and even if they don’t usually file a tax return. They do, however, need a Social Security Number and cannot be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer.
IRS wants to fill in the blanks
The IRS says the only way it can get the information it needs to send out an EIP is from a basic 2020 federal tax return. When a return is processed, the IRS can then send stimulus payments to the address of choice selected by the filer.
"Someone experiencing homelessness may list the address of a friend, relative or trusted service provider, such as a shelter, drop-in day center or transitional housing program, on the return filed with the IRS," the agency explains. "If they are unable to choose direct deposit, a check or debit card for the tax refund and the third Economic Impact Payment can then be mailed to this address."
In addition to EIP3, the IRS says those without a permanent address can qualify for other tax credits—like the Earned Income Tax Credit—and even EIP1 and EIP2 when filing a 2020 return.
To get their share of those two earlier direct payments, the filer needs to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit. For those who are unfamiliar with the RRC, the IRS has a webpage dedicated to it: Claiming the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit if you aren’t required to file a tax return.
As for the EITC, the IRS says their EITC Assistant can help homeless workers determine whether they qualify and estimate its value.
Getting a bank account isn't required
While a bank account isn’t required to receive an Economic Impact Payment, having an account does enable a filer to get their EIP direct deposited.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) website has details on opening an account online. Other resources with lists of banks and credit unions that can open an account online include:
- American Bankers Association
- Independent Community Bankers of America
- National Credit Union Administration
The IRS also notes that veterans can use the Veterans Benefits Banking Program (VBBP) "for access to financial services at participating banks."
Filers with a prepaid debit card may also be able to have their refund sent to their card account. Cardholders need to check with the institution that issued the card to find out if the card can be used and to get the routing and account numbers, which could be different from the card number.
Other resources for employers
The IRS issued this latest press release to "help spread the word" to those who could use this financial boost the most. To make it easier for employers to provide employees with information about the Earned Income Tax Credit, they created an outreach material packet that is available on their site: EITC.IRS.gov/Partner-Toolkit/Employers/Employers.