Rep. Omar Introduces Bill and Leads Letter to Expand COVID-19 Economic Assistance to Mixed Status Filers

April 7, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON— Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) today introduced the Recovery Rebates Improvement Act and sent a letter to the Department of Treasury to request guidance on eligibility of recovery rebates. While the recently passed CARES Act provide millions of Americans with direct economic assistance, the bill leaves out many noncitizens and mixed status families—even if members of the family are citizens. The Recovery Rebates Improvement Act fixes the major error by expanding the special rule for the military in the CARES Act. The letter sent to the Department of Treasury addresses the eligibility requirements to clarify how certain taxpayers and dependents can actually receive these payments.

The CARES Act provides a one-time stimulus payment of $1200 for most adults and $500 for children under the age of 17. In order to receive payment, the CARES Act requires identification in the form of a Social Security Number (SSN). Under current statute, married couples filing jointly with any non-SSN identification will not be eligible for the stimulus payment.

“It is absurd and cruel that a taxpaying, mixed status couple or family could be excluded from this relief,” Rep. Omar said. “Over 140,000 Minnesotans live in mixed status families of some form. As currently written, many Minnesotans who are in this country legally or part of a mixed status family will not receive any stimulus money, even if one of them has a social security number but the other does not.”

The Recovery Rebates Improvement Act will expand the eligibility requirement to ensure joint tax filers with one SSN will receive payment and provide more people with vital economic assistance. Comprehensive legislation is needed in the next package to ensure that all noncitizens, whether holding a SSN or not, can access these relief payments.

Rep. Omar also led a letter to the Department of Treasury to clarify eligibility requirements and request an update on the implementation of recovery rebates.

“These recovery rebates are one-time stimulus payments of $1,200 for most adults over the age of 18 and $500 for children under the age of 17,” the Members wrote. “While a good first step, this limited, short-term aid will likely be insufficient to help many families manage this outbreak. Which is why we must ensure that most of these funds are distributed to as many Americans as possible, as quickly as possible.”

“While the Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are working to provide guidance on eligibility and delivery mechanisms, there are concerns that these stimulus payments could still leave out millions of other Americans, including how the IRS will reach the housing insecure and whether recent life changes, like the birth of a child or a divorce, will be taken into consideration.”

The letter was signed by Representatives Jesús G. “Chuy” García, Mike Doyle, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Earl Blumenauer, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Alma S. Adams, Ph.D., Joaquin Castro, Donna E. Shalala, Jahana Hayes, Frederica S. Wilson, Josh Harder, Judy Chu, André Carson, Susan A. Davis, Jimmy Panetta, Nydia M. Velázquez, Pramila Jayapal, Suzanne Bonamici, J. Luis Correa, Barbara Lee, James P. McGovern, Sylvia R. Garcia, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jackie Speier, Rosa L. DeLauro, Jan Schakowsky, and Adriano Espaillat. 

The letter and bill are endorsed by the City of Minneapolis and the following organizations: CASA, Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, Doctors for Camp Closure, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women's Reproductive Justice Agenda, America’s Voice, Allianza Americas, African Communities Together, Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), Church World Service, Church World Service, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries, International Refugee Assistance Project, National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Franciscan Action Network, Pax Christi USA, Adhikaar, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), Oxfam America, Congregation of Our Lady of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), People's Policy Project, Data for Progress, UNITE HERE, Public Citizen, ACRE (Action Center on Race and the Economy), Social Security Works, Prosperity Now, Jobs With Justice, National Network for Immigrant & Refugee Rights, Young Invincibles, Economic Policy Institute (EPI), Chicago Jobs Council, CODEPINK, Fund for Democratic Communities, Community Enterprise & Solidarity Economy Clinic, Post Growth Institute, LIFT Economy, The Democracy Collaborative, Economic Security Project Action, U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

A PDF of the letter can be found here and the full text of the letter is below. 

 

The Honorable Steven Mnuchin                                            The Honorable Charles P. Rettig

Department of the Treasury                                                   Internal Revenue Service                        

1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.                                         1111 Constitution Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20220                                                        Washington, D.C. 20224

 

Dear Secretary Mnuchin and Commissioner Rettig:

We write to request an update on the Administration’s efforts to deliver stimulus payments to all eligible recipients as quickly as possible, established in Section 2201 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Public Law 116-136.

Many of our constituents are confused and concerned that they may not receive these rebates in a timely fashion or possibly at all. College students, elderly dependents, mixed status families, and anyone else facing current financial and other life challenges, not represented in past filings, may be completely or partially excluded from these benefits. Basing this means-tested program on old tax returns only using Social Security Numbers (SSN) will inevitably lead to certain dependents and other groups being missed and left out, which was not the full intention of the bill Congress passed and the President signed last week.

We understand that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will be issuing more guidance to clarify the eligibility, application, and delivery methods of such payments, but the Treasury department’s pledged timeline of three weeks to send out these checks is rapidly approaching, with little to no updates for the American people.

Given the time sensitive nature of this issue, we respectfully request a response to the following questions no later than 14 days after receipt of this letter:

  • Will a filer, that claims adult dependents over the age of 17, be able to receive the $500 amount of the dependent rebate or will the adult dependent be eligible for the $1200 rebate?
    • If the statutory interpretation of complete ineligibility is confirmed to be the case, we hope you will expand eligibility in future negotiations. In the meantime to clear up any more confusion, will there be a process for an individual who was an adult dependent in 2018 or 2019 but is not an adult dependent in 2020 to receive their $1200 as an advanced payment?
  • How will the IRS determine the eligibility and amount for such payments to individuals who currently have extenuating financial circumstances as a result of COVID-19 but such changes in income and tax liability are not represented in their 2019 or 2018 tax returns?
    • Will the IRS also consider other updated life circumstances, not reflected in past filing statuses, when determining and sending out these payments, such as recently divorced joint filers or filers with newborn children this year?
  • If a non-military couple files jointly, but only one person has a SSN, will they both become ineligible for any stimulus payment?
    • If this statutory interpretation is confirmed to be the case, would it instead be possible for the IRS to send a partial payment only to the individual with a SSN?
    • If not, how will impacted individuals be notified of their ineligibility or otherwise receive any kind of guidance?
  • Are there additional application procedures that Treasury and the IRS are considering to try to reach eligible recipients who may be facing housing insecurity or banking access barriers?
  • Are there outreach measures in place to make sure eligible recipients are able to receive these payments if they are not automatic direct deposits?
  • How will individuals who are concerned that they did not receive the correct rebate amount be able to contact the agency for clarification and guidance?

Given the complexities of this undertaking, many of our constituents will undoubtedly have questions and will look to federal government for guidance in the very near term. We look forward to your responses and to working together on this important matter.

 

Additional signers:

Rep. Jesús G. “Chuy” García

Rep. Mike Doyle

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton

Rep. Earl Blumenauer

Rep. Ayanna Pressley

Rep. Rashida Tlaib

Rep. Alma S. Adams, Ph.D.

Rep. Joaquin Castro

Rep. Donna E. Shalala

Rep. Jahana Hayes 

Rep. John B. Larson

Rep. Frederica S. Wilson

Rep. Josh Harder 

Rep. Judy Chu

Rep. André Carson

Rep. Susan A. Davis

Rep. Jimmy Panetta

Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez

Rep. Pramila Jayapal

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici

Rep. J. Luis Correa

Rep. Barbara Lee

Rep. James P. McGovern

Rep. Sylvia R. Garcia

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Rep. Jackie Speier

Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro

Rep. Adriano Espaillat

Rep. Jan Schakowsky

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