Prisoners eligible for coronavirus stimulus checks; Deadline nearing, here’s how to apply

There is no surety yet, if the second stimulus checks will come or not, but there is good news for prisoners waiting for their first stimulus checks. Last week, a judge ruled that prisoners are eligible to get coronavirus stimulus checks under the CARES Act. However, the prisoners need to act fast to claim their coronavirus stimulus check as the deadline is early next month.

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How prisoners need to file coronavirus stimulus checks

Last week, a district court for the Northern District of California granted summary judgment in Scholl v Mnuchin. This case was against the IRS denying stimulus checks to inmates. The judgment also seals the preliminary injunction, which was issued earlier this month. Now, the IRS and Treasury Department can’t withhold the checks on a person’s incarceration status.

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With the ruling, over two million incarcerated people in the U.S. may now be eligible for the $1,200 stimulus payment. However, those eligible need to act quickly to claim and receive their payment in 2020.

Paper claims must be made by Nov. 4, while the deadline for the online claim is Nov. 21. This deadline only applies to those who didn’t file their 2018 or 2019 tax return, and their income was less than $12,200 in 2019. Such inmates need to file a claim using the IRS’s Non-Filers tool.

You can file a paper application as well. Visit this page for instructions on how to file the claim. A point to note is that those filing a claim online need to fill out line 9 of the form as well. Filling out this line is not required in the case of paper submissions.

Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, a law firm fighting the IRS on the case, recommends using the paper claim form. Further, the law firm says it is the inmates that need to fill out the paperwork unless the IRS comes out with further guidance.

These inmates don’t need to do anything

If you already filed a claim before Sept. 24, then you don’t need to do anything. There have been cases where prisoners filed a claim for the stimulus check, but it was rejected or the payment was intercepted and returned. Now, as per the court’s order, the IRS needs to automatically re-process such claims by Oct. 24.

You can check the status of your payment by visiting the IRS’s portal. In case, your stimulus check didn’t arrive by Nov. 1, and the payment status is not available, then you need to contact the IRS.

In case you filed the 2018 or 2019 tax return, or get Social Security Benefits or Railroad Retirement Board Benefits, then also you don’t need to file a claim. The IRS has been ordered to process payment for such prisoners automatically by Oct. 24. In case your payment status isn’t available on the IRS’s portal, or you didn’t get the payment by early November, then you need to contact the IRS.