News Release

“Low-Income People Must Actually Get Stimulus Payments”

ROBERT GREENSTEIN, via Jacob Kaufman-Waldron, jkaufmanwaldron at cbpp.org, @GreensteinCBPP
Greenstein is president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. See his thread on Twitter on “glaring gaps” in current Senate proposals.

He also just wrote the piece “Low-Income People Must Be Eligible for Stimulus Payments — and Actually Receive Them,” which states: “Stimulus payments need to reach as many low-, moderate-, and middle-income households as possible to soften the COVID-19 pandemic’s financial blow to individuals and shore up the economy. That means that lawmakers must not only make low- and moderate-income people eligible for the full payments; they must also ensure that the government delivers the payments without imposing new requirements on individuals to file tax returns or fill out and submit other complex paperwork. …

“The IRS should be able to send stimulus payments quickly to most people who file tax returns. But some 30 million people don’t file returns, including those with incomes so low that they aren’t required to file returns for federal taxes and millions of seniors, people with disabilities, and veterans. …

“States can reach many of the millions of low-income people who aren’t receiving benefits (such as Social Security) from federal agencies by delivering the payments through state-administered programs such as SNAP (food stamps), Medicaid, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). …

“Former IRS Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson has urged lawmakers to avoid this mistake of 2008 and, instead, to use federal agencies such as SSA and the VA to quickly deliver stimulus payments to people who don’t file tax returns. We agree, and lawmakers should also ensure that the millions of people who neither file a tax return nor receive federally administered benefits actually receive stimulus payments through state governments, as explained above.

“This seemingly technical issue will determine whether millions of low-income people in fact receive stimulus payments. These are the very people who struggle the most to make ends meet and, thus, are the likeliest to spend every additional dollar they receive, providing the greatest potential boost to the economy. Ensuring that they get stimulus payments is not just the right thing to do from a humanitarian standpoint; it’s also the essential thing to do for the U.S. economy.”