Local agencies help residents expedite receipt of federal economic stimulus payments

April 14, 2020

Free tax filing services and safe, affordable banking resources

 

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service have announced that the distribution of federal COVID-19 stimulus payments will begin over the next few weeks and will be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people.

Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 will automatically receive an economic impact payment of up to $1,200 for individuals with an adjusted gross income below $75,000, or $2,400 to married couples filing taxes jointly who earn under $150,000. Parents also receive $500 for each qualifying child.

The payments decline above the $75,000/$150,000 threshold and end at $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for married couples.

Most people do not need to take any action. The IRS will calculate and automatically send the economic impact payment to those eligible.  For residents who have already filed their 2019 tax return, the IRS will use this information to calculate the payment amount. For those who have not yet filed their 2019 tax return, the IRS will use information from their 2018 tax filing to calculate the payment.

The economic impact payment will be deposited directly into the same banking account reflected on the return filed. For residents who have not yet filed their 2018 or 2019 taxes, doing so now will help expedite the receipt of the economic stimulus payment. For residents who do not have an account with a bank or credit union, establishing an account with an insured financial institution will also expedite receipt of the economic stimulus payment.

For individuals who don’t have a bank or credit union account on file with the IRS, the time to do so is now to avoid having to potentially wait months for a paper check. It is not too late for those who have never given their account information to the IRS. Nor is it too late for those who are unbanked to open a bank or credit union account and get the stimulus payment directly deposited into their account.

“Now, more than ever, it is extremely important to have a banking account” says Erin Waddell, a program manager with Louisville Metro Office of Resilience and Community Services who co-chairs Bank On Louisville, a city-led collaborative that works to connect residents to safe and affordable financial services. “With a bank or credit union account, not only can you manage your money remotely while practicing social distancing, but you will be able to receive your federal stimulus check, unemployment insurance and other income both faster and safer.”

“Although the filing deadline has been extended, we encourage everyone to file a tax return as soon as possible to ensure they receive the full refund they have earned, or to better prepare for any outstanding balances they may owe,” says Christopher Murphree, program director with the Louisville Asset Building Coalition. “Tax filing also provides the IRS with updated personal information to assist individuals with receiving the economic impact payments.” 

For more details and updates about the economic stimulus payments,  please visit https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus-tax-relief-and-economic-impact-payments.

For Louisville residents in need of help filing taxes and/or opening a bank account, the Louisville Asset Building Coalition and Bank On Louisville are sharing guidance.

Free tax filing resources available
The easiest way to ensure the Treasury Department has your most up-to-date direct deposit information is to file a tax return. Anyone with a tax filing obligation who has not yet filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019 should file as soon as possible. The Louisville Asset Building Coalition (LABC), which administers the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) offers these resources and guidance:

  • Taxpayers can still file with an IRS certified VITA tax preparer by scheduling an appointment at labcservices.org. Taxpayers can simply pick a date a time that works best for them, complete a short intake form, then upload their documents. A VITA preparer will then review their return with them at their scheduled appointment time.
  • LABC also offers free tax preparation software through the IRS Free File Program Delivered by Turbo Tax. Individuals with an annual income under $36,000 or active duty military members with income under $69,000 qualify for this free tax software program. Visit labcservices.org to learn more, and for a screenshot guide that walks you through the free software.
  • United Way Worldwide and H &R Block have partnered together to develop the My Free Taxes software program, which is available to all individuals regardless of annual income. Some limitations for certain tax forms apply. Visit Myfreetaxes.com to learn more about this offering.
  • E-filing is still the quickest way to receive a tax refund, and choosing direct deposit ensures taxpayers receive their refund and economic impact payments in a fast, secure manner.
  • The IRS, in partnership with Free File Alliance, launched a new web tool that allows quick registration for economic impact payments for those who don’t normally file a tax return, including those with too little income to file. The feature is available only on www.IRS.gov and users should look for “Non-filers: Enter Payment Info Here” to take them directly to the tool.
  • Individuals may also update their direct deposit information by filing a modified Economic Impact Payment tax return. Appointments to complete these returns are available at labcservices.org.
  • The IRS is developing a portal for individuals who wish to update their direct deposit information and a stimulus payment tracker called “Get Stimulus Tool.” Visit the IRS Coronavirus Tax Relief page at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus-tax-relief-and-economic-impact-payments for the most up to date information.

Both the IRS and the Kentucky Department of Revenue have extended the 2019 income tax filing deadline to July 15, 2020. Other relief programs by both agencies may become available. Visit the IRS Coronavirus Tax Relief webpage at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus and the Kentucky Department of Revenue homepage at https://revenue.ky.gov/ for the most up to date information.

Resources available for opening a safe, affordable bank account
Having a bank account on file with the IRS is the fastest, safest, and most affordable way to receive the federal economic impact funds.   Bank On Louisville – a collaborative partnership working to connect people to safe, affordable, and certified banking accounts – offers these resources and guidance:

  • Encourages Louisville-area residents to open a Bank On certified account where holders can access mobile banking, direct deposit, bill pay, ATM’s and more through area banks and credit unions with which they are familiar.
  • Check listing of Bank On Louisville financial institution partners at bankonlouisville.org. Bank and credit union partners of Bank On Louisville offer accounts that are safe, affordable and functional. Several partners also offer Bank On Certified accounts which meet a rigorous set of standards related to affordability, consumer safety and functionality.  Specifically, these certified accounts do not allow overdraft or non-sufficient funds fees, so holders will never be hit with a surprise fee. They also charge $5 or less per month and do not charge for mobile banking, deposits, withdrawals, or bill payments.
  • The process to open an account varies by financial institution, but many offer the ability to open an account online. In general, accounts can be opened online, in-person, over the phone or via a mobile app. A full list of bank and credit union partners and those with certified accounts can be found at: www.bankonlouisville.org.
  • Not having a banking account on file with the IRS means that your economic impact payment will take longer to receive because it will come via paper check in the mail.
  • Having a banking account will also ensure that other forms of income or benefits are received timely and safely – unemployment insurance, paychecks, tax refunds, etc.

Tips to make the most of economic impact payments
LABC and Bank On Louisville offer further guidance to help residents make the most of the economic impact payments:

  • Get banked. Establish an account with an insured local bank or credit union so that you can receive your economic impact payment easier and faster and so that you can manage your money remotely and safely.
  • Get your bank account information to the IRS so that you can get your stimulus payment faster, more safely, and for free. Visit the IRS’ website page on Economic Impact (stimulus) payments and sign up with your account number.
  • Avoid payday lenders, or other predatory lending services, that may charge unreasonably high fees for advances on these economic impact payments and that charge you check cashing fees just so you can access your economic stimulus payment.
  • Bank On Louisville and LABC encourage residents take the following safe financial measures during COVID-19:
    • Get in control of your bills – contact your financial institution, utility providers, creditors, etc. to discuss payment plans, assistance programs, etc.
    • Apply for benefits – apply for unemployment if you’ve lost your job or any portion of your wages, file your taxes, and claim other government benefits.
    • Protect your money - beware of products, services, or unsolicited phone calls related to COVID-19 and get in touch with a financial counselor if need be.
  • For more resources, visit bankonlouisville.org, and https://louisvilleky.gov/government/health-wellness/covid-19-response-community-agency-actions-taken-assist-our-most.

For more information, visit Louisville Asset Building Coalition at www.labcservices.org and Bank On Louisville at www.bankonlouisville.org

More about Louisville Asset Building Coalition
The Louisville Asset Building Coalition (LABC) is a 501(c)(3) organization that is a broad public/private collaborative dedicated to promoting financial stability and asset building for individuals and families. By providing direct services and linkages to other community resources, LABC strives to build an economic foundation that will allow members of our community to reach their highest potential.

The coalition is committed to bettering its members and the community by leveraging the success of its free tax preparation and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Campaign. LABC also provides a continuum of financial education resources and asset development initiatives for Metro Louisville and Jefferson County.  Visit https://labcservices.org/ for more information.

More about Bank On Louisville
Launched in 2010, Bank On Louisville is a collaborative partnership between local government, financial institutions and community organizations that work to improve the financial stability of unbanked and underbanked residents in our Louisville community. To date, Bank On Louisville has helped connect more than 43,000 residents to safe and affordable bank accounts and connected more than 25,500 residents to quality financial education.  In 2020, Bank On Louisville is proud to celebrate 10 years of connecting residents to Louisville’s safest accounts.  Visit www.bankonlouisville.org for more information.

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