On March 11, Congress’s American Rescue Plan Act became public law. As a result, the third round of stimulus checks is in full swing. Checks are already hitting bank accounts and filling mailboxes. Many homeless Massachusetts residents are eligible for stimulus checks. However, homeless individuals may need to take special action to receive their checks.
Why Do Homeless Individuals Have Less Access to Stimulus Checks?
As of January 2019, approximately 18,471 individuals in Massachusetts are experiencing homelessness. Unfortunately, many of these individuals are eligible for stimulus checks but may never receive one due to the stark inequalities that frequently accompany homelessness.
Individuals who earn less than $75,000 of adjusted gross income, heads of households who earn less than $112,500 and married couples who earn less than $150,000 are eligible to receive a $1,400 stimulus check.
If a homeless individual falls under one of these categories, why is it so difficult for them to receive a check?
What Can Homeless Individuals do to Ensure They Receive a Stimulus Check?
If you are homeless and eligible for a stimulus check here’s what you can do.
Claim Your Stimulus Checks as Rebate on Your 2020 Tax Return (Yes, There’s Still Time to File)
Non-filers, individuals who haven’t filed taxes in the past due to low income, can claim their checks as rebates on their 2020 tax return (Recovery Rebate Credit).
If you make $72,000 or less, you qualify for IRS Free File. Therefore, you can file your federal taxes for free. IRS Free File gives you access to:
- Free federal tax filing on an IRS partner site (IRS Free File partners are online tax preparation companies that offer IRS Free File at no cost to qualifying taxpayers)
- State tax filing (free with some offers)
- Guided preparation, simply answer questions
- Online service does all the math
Additionally, the IRS offers help in-person to individuals who qualify via its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Under this program, people who generally make $57,000 or less can receive free tax help.
May 17, 2021, is the new, extended deadline to file 2020 taxes.
What Can I Do to Help Homeless Individuals Receive Stimulus Checks?
Do you want to get involved? There’s plenty you can do to help homeless individuals receive their stimulus checks.
The biggest thing you can do to help the homeless community where you live is to spread the word. Homelessness is isolating. Often, individuals without homes lack internet access. Meaning, they cannot view online news outlets or social media – places where information is commonly shared.
Get It Back is an organization that seeks to help eligible individuals claim tax credits. The organization works to improve information accessibility. Their website provides many resources for those looking to make an impact and help others.
Have a friendly personality? Multilingual communication skills? Organizational and leadership qualities? Computer savvy? Tax law certified? The IRS is looking for qualified tax volunteers and there is almost certainly a perfect position for you.