For those people who lack bank accounts and other measures to deposit the rebate checks of up to $1200 per person, the U.S. Treasury has issued 3.6 million electronic impact payments (EIPs) more commonly thought of as debit cards. In a letter to members of the House, Treasury indicated that as of June 19, 2020 of the 3.6 million cards issued, 73 percent had been activated but an additional 44,000 cards have to be replaced due to being lost or even thrown away.
The information was provided in a letter to Congressman John Lewis (D-GA). The letter provides impetus to current efforts, led by the Center on Budget Policy and Priority indicate that millions of individuals and families could miss out on stimulus payments because they don’t know how to get them. This confusion over the use of the debit cards only adds to the challenge. The debit cards arrive in the mail unmarked and some may be throwing them away thinking the envelope could be junk mail. The Treasury Department letter said the use of debit cards to provide the tax payments is based in part on ATM networks and the use of the cards in other human services.
Economic Impact Payments (EIP) –commonly referred to as “stimulus checks” or “recovery rebates”– are a key provision of the Coronavirus Aid Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act legislation that Congress passed to help reduce the financial burden of COVID-19 on individuals and their families. The payments are to help reduce the financial burden of COVID-19. Payments are worth up to $1,200, plus up to $500 for certain children. To get the payment, individuals will need to file a tax return or complete an online IRS form by October 15, 2020 to get the payment this year.
The National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families highlights the need for rethinking how financial supports or future relief is delivered to households who already have challenges with health and economic outcomes.
According to the 2017 data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), sixty percent of Hispanic and Black low-income family households had no little to no access to banks. The CARES Act provided economic relief payments to millions of Americans via direct payments; however, many Americans faced complications accessing the COVID relief funding.
Compared with 11 percent of low-income White family households, the study revealed that 30 percent of low-income Hispanic and Black family households, households with $30,000 in total income, did not have a bank account. These families often rely on alternative financial services such as check cashing services, money orders, prepaid debit cards, and payday lenders, which have high fees and presented additional financial burdens on low-income families. The survey revealed that many unbanked households do not have enough money to keep in an account, trust banks, and are inconveniently located.
Remember, you can help eligible youth and resource parents get their stimulus checks by completing a “Non-Filer” form with the IRS. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) estimates that 12 million Americans have not applied for the checks.
For more information, go to eitcoutreach.org/stimulus; click here for the one-pager. To join a growing group of organizations committed to helping eligible people get their EIPs, click here to Become a partner in the national EIP Outreach Campaign.