We have already seen quite a few proposals for the next stimulus round. Most of these proposals aim to overcome the drawbacks of the first stimulus payment, or the CARES Act. However, a new proposal from Florida Senator Marco Rubio aims to amend the CARES Act itself to include a group that was initially excluded from Coronavirus stimulus checks – that group is American families with non-citizens.
CARES Act denied Coronavirus stimulus checks to families with non-citizens
Passed in March, the CARES Act promised a $1,200 stimulus check to everyone, with a few exceptions. Some of these exceptions were clear, such as no money for those earning more than $150,000 annually, while some exceptions were not so clear, such as having a valid Social Security number.
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This exception went against the families where one spouse is American, but the other is a non-citizen. In such cases, if you filed a joint tax return, then you wouldn’t receive the stimulus check payment. Moreover, such families are also not eligible to get $500 for each qualifying child.
When you file a tax return with a non-citizen spouse, you would typically give an ITIN or the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. Anyone on a tax return with ITIN, including your children, is ineligible for a stimulus check.
Such a provision seems to be unfair to many, including Senator Marco Rubio. Thus, Rubio now wants to ensure that U.S. citizens married to someone who is undocumented get the stimulus money as well.
“No American should be denied a federal stimulus check because they are married to a foreign national who is not a U.S. citizen,” said Senator Rubio.
For this purpose, Rubio and Thom Tillis, R-N.C, introduced a bill on Thursday with the objective to reverse the exclusion in the CARES Act. This bill is named, The American Citizen Coronavirus Relief Act.
How Marco Rubio aims to fix CARES Act?
The bill, if passed, would reverse the rule in the CARES Act so that those who file jointly with non-citizen spouses become eligible for coronavirus stimulus payments as individuals. Moreover, the bill would also ensure that children (below 17) also are entitled to payment, provided they are U.S. citizens and one of their parents is a U.S. citizen.
“The American Citizen Coronavirus Relief Act maintains the SSN requirement but would allow U.S. citizens to receive EIPs the same as they would as a single tax filer,” the bill says.
If the bill gets the approval, then, for instance, a family of five with a non-citizen parent and earning less than $150,000 would get $2,700 stimulus money. This means that except for the non-citizen, every eligible family member would get the coronavirus stimulus payment.
“Every eligible citizen deserves this payment and I am proud to introduce legislation with Senator Rubio to fix this oversight,” Senator Tillis said.
HEROES Act has similar provision as well
Rubio’s bill is not the only proposal that aims to include the group excluded in the CARES Act. Democrats-backed HEROES Act, which passed the House of Representatives last month, includes several fixes to the CARES Act to include American families with non-citizens and other groups as well.
For instance, the HEROES Act has a provision to allow ITINs, but the benefit is reduced to $0. However, this ensures that others on the same tax return are eligible for the stimulus payment. Also, the HEROES Act removes the age requirement for dependent children, thereby allowing dependents over the age of 16 to also qualify for the stimulus payment.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the introduction of The American Citizen Coronavirus Relief Act, suggests the emergence of bipartisan support for fixing some drawbacks of the CARES Act. Thus, it is very likely that the next stimulus package would not exclude American families with non-citizens from the stimulus checks.
On the other hand, considering there is still some time left for the next stimulus round, it is possible that Congress will pass a bill just to fix such issues with the CARES Act. The next stimulus package may come next month. However, it is uncertain if it will include stimulus checks.
President Trump has shown support for direct payments. Many high-profile officials, however, believe there is no need for stimulus checks now. Some favor targeted payments only to those who need it the most, while some want the next stimulus to focus on job creation.
A few weeks back, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin even told Sen. Marco Rubio‘s committee that the next coronavirus stimulus package should focus on industries hit hard by the pandemic, such as travel and leisure.