INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Thousands of Hoosiers are slated to receive special mailings urging them to check their eligibility for unclaimed stimulus payments of up to $1,200 per person, plus $500 for each qualifying child.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) plans to notify nearly 9 million Americans who may be missing economic impact payments authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Notice 1444-A will be mailed to people who did not file tax returns for 2018 or 2019, including 150,154 Indiana residents.
The one-page letter is available in English and Spanish, and instructs eligible recipients to take action by October 15 if they wish to claim their payments this year.
“Non-filers” with little or no income – who are not typically required to file tax returns – can use an IRS web tool to claim stimulus money they are entitled to.
A government watchdog report called on federal agencies to compile data providing “greater clarity about which populations may be at risk of missing out on the payment.”
The Treasury Department, IRS, other agencies and partners “lack updated information on how many eligible recipients have yet to receive these funds” and should “update and refine” their estimates, according to a report issued Monday by the Government Accountability Office, Congress’s auditing arm.
The insufficient data “could hinder outreach efforts and place potentially millions of individuals at risk of missing their payment,” the report said.
Rick Ebbinghouse, an Indianapolis tax attorney, suspected lack of awareness and unwillingness to file tax returns contributed to unclaimed payments.
“It’s very common [not to file tax returns]. It’s a big mistake not to file your tax return, even when you can’t pay,” Ebbinghouse told News 8.
U.S. Rep. Andre Carson said he was “disturbed” by the watchdog’s findings and pointed to another potentially widespread issue federal agencies were unable to quantify with available data: eligible Americans who correctly filed tax returns but still had not received stimulus payments.
“My office has received many calls and complaints about payments that have not been received,” the Democratic congressman from Indiana said in an emailed statement to News 8. “This is unacceptable.”
A Bloomington resident, who requested not to be identified in this report due to privacy concerns, said he waited months to receive his money because his stimulus payment was erroneously deposited in a closed bank account.
He encountered website issues and delays when he initially attempted to report the mistake online.
“It just came down to technical issues and that can always be frustrating, but I was fortunate enough to have it worked out,” he said. “I wasn’t aware there were still 9 million people [who may not have received payments yet].”