Law360 (April 8, 2020, 6:54 PM EDT) — Veterans on government pensions who don’t file tax returns shouldn’t miss out on upcoming stimulus checks to soften the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic, a bipartisan pair of House members said Wednesday in a letter to the IRS.
Reps. Ron Kind, D-Wis., and Mike Kelly, R-Pa., said the Internal Revenue Service should treat veterans like other Americans who are automatically eligible to receive their $1,200 stimulus checks this month without needing to file extra paperwork. Their letter, sent to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, urged coordination with the Department of Veterans Affairs “to ensure that VA beneficiaries who do not file annual taxes are not required to file a supplementary form in order to receive” the stimulus.
Kind and Kelly are members of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has oversight responsibility for Treasury and the IRS. The lawmakers said they feared that some veterans might miss out on the checks if they were required to file extra paperwork.
“Many veterans are at high risk of severe and life-threatening symptoms from COVID-19, and older veterans may not be able to access a computer to submit the form if they rely on public computers to access the internet,” the lawmakers said, referring to the respiratory disease caused by the virus.
The IRS did not respond to a request for comment.
The agency has been cutting half its staff at mission-critical locations in the interest of social distancing because of the pandemic.
The IRS is expected to begin distributing payments to taxpayers Thursday in accordance with Congress’ recent passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act , which President Donald Trump signed into law in late March.
Under the CARES Act, the IRS will send $1,200 to individuals and $2,400 to couples filing joint tax returns, along with an additional $500 per qualifying child. The payments will be reduced for those with incomes above $75,000, or $150,000 for couples, and they will be eliminated for those with incomes of more than $99,000, or $198,000 for couples.
Last week, Mnuchin said that seniors and disabled individuals who receive Social Security benefits won’t have to file tax returns to receive the checks. He said the IRS will use information it already has on certain Social Security forms to distribute the relief payments to the program’s beneficiaries without requiring them to file returns.
However, lawmakers have continued writing to the Treasury, IRS and the VA to clarify that tax returns don’t need to be filed by veterans who receive pensions from the VA and low-income individuals with disabilities who receive Supplemental Security Income.
In addition to Kind and Kelly’s letter, Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., sent the administration officials a request to help veterans.