Social Security recipients to get relief payments directly to bank account without filing tax return

A group of senators argued recipients shouldn't have to file.

April 2, 2020, 2:44 PM

Bowing to pressure, the Internal Revenue Service has announced that Social Security beneficiaries will automatically receive their $1,200 emergency assistance payments without having to file a tax return – as originally required by the $2 trillion relief bill signed into law last Friday.

“Social Security recipients who are not typically required to file a tax return need to take no action, and will receive their payment directly to their bank account,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Wednesday eveing

This announcement came after a group of 41 senators wrote a letter to Mnuchin on Wednesday saying they were alarmed that the “Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released contradictory guidance earlier this week stating that Social Security beneficiaries would need to file tax returns in order to receive direct payments.”

Earlier this week, guidance on the the IRS website said “people who typically do not file a tax return will need to file," including low-income taxpayers, senior citizens, Social Security recipients, some veterans, and individuals with disabilities.

The senators called for direct payments to be processed without the requirement of filing tax returns.

PHOTO: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Briefing Room, March 25, 2020, in Washington.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Briefing Room, March 25, 2020, in Washington.
Alex Brandon/AP

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., took to Twitter, arguing that having to file would be an “unnecessary burden for people who need relief now.”

She was joined by Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri.

"Despite language Congress passed in #COVIDー19 relief bill to ensure Social Security beneficiaries would NOT have to file taxes to receive direct relief, IRS issued guidance saying seniors DO have to file taxes" Hawley wrote. "That’s ridiculous. IRS should follow the law that Congress passed."

The economic impact payment -- part of the "phase 3" COVID-19 relief package -- would give $1,200 to any individual who had an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less ($2,400 for married couples who have filed joint returns with an income of $150,000 or less). Parents, with a qualifying child, will receive $500 more per child.

“For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000/$150,000 thresholds,” the IRS said.

If a single filer’s income is more than $99,000, he or she is not eligible ($198,000 for joint filers with no children).

PHOTO: President Donald Trump signs the coronavirus stimulus relief package in the Oval Office at the White House, March 27, 2020.
President Donald Trump signs the coronavirus stimulus relief package in the Oval Office at the White House, March 27, 2020.
Evan Vucci/AP, FILE

For most, no action will be required and the payment will be distributed automatically -- the IRS will base payments off either 2018 or 2019 tax returns.

For taxpayers who have not yet filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019 – and are not Social Security beneficiaries – the IRS recommends filing as soon as possible to receive a payment since the payments are only available until the end of 2020. Anyone filing should include direct deposit banking information.

As the financial crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic continiues, these payments will be necesary for many Americans. On Thursday, 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment – the most recorded in U.S. history.

For those eligible, payments will begin in the next three weeks, according to the IRS.

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ABC News’ Ben Gittleson and Sarah Kolinovsky contributed to this report.

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