More Relief for People who are Struggling

TAX DEADLINE EXTENDED

The tax filing due date has been extended to July 15.  Tax returns and any income taxes owed will not be due until July 15. 

CASH PAYMENTS TO AMERICANS

Who qualifies?

Anyone who filed a tax return this year or last year is eligible for a nearly immediate financial infusion of up to $1,200 per person. Even people who rely on their social security for income are eligible to receive money.  Individuals will receive $1,200, married couples would get $2,400, and each child dependent (under 17) in a family would receive $500. The rebates are not taxable and only subject to garnishment if back child support is owed. A phasing out of the money at a 5% percent rate begins at adjusted gross incomes of $75,000 or more for single filers, $112,500 or more for heads of household, and $150,000 or more for joint filers.

How will checks be delivered?

Checks will be delivered directly by the IRS to most Americans who have filed federal income tax returns in 2019 or 2018. When available, direct deposit will be used in place of mailing a physical check. 

Expected Timeline for the Checks

As of last Friday, April 2nd, it's expected that the checks will be issued following the timeline below. 

  • The IRS will make about 60 million payments to Americans through direct deposit in mid-April (likely, the week of April 13th). The IRS has direct deposit information for these individuals from their 2018 or 2019 tax returns. This will include SSA beneficiaries who filed federal tax returns that included direct deposit information.
  • Shortly (hopefully within 10 days) after the first round of payments are made in mid-April, the IRS plans to make a second run of payments. These payments will be made to Social Security beneficiaries who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019 and receive their Social Security benefits via direct deposit. (The estimates are that nearly 99 percent of SS beneficiaries who do not file a return receive their SS benefits through direct deposit.) 
  • About 3 weeks after the first round of payments are made (the week of May 4th), the IRS will begin issuing paper checks to individuals.
  • The paper checks will be issued at a rate of about 5 million per week, which could take up to 20 weeks to get all the checks out.  
  • The checks will be issued in reverse “adjusted gross income” order—starting with people with the lowest income first.

The IRS is encouraging taxpayers to file their 2019 returns to the maximum extent possible. As taxpayers file their 2019 returns electronically, the IRS will post updated tax information weekly to its files.

The IRS expects to create a portal by the end of April/early May that will allow taxpayers, once they have been authenticated, to: (1) find out the status of their check and (2) update direct deposit information. 

For Social Security beneficiaries who do not file returns, Treasury and the IRS announced on the evening of April 1st that these beneficiaries will not need to file a “simple tax return” to receive their check. Recipients will receive their checks just as they would their Social Security benefits. 

For other taxpayers who do not file returns, the IRS expects to release a “simple tax return” soon that will contain only a few questions, including name, SSNs, dependents, and deposit information. There also will be other IRS guidance accompanying this simple tax return.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

If you have lost your job due to coronavirus, you can apply for unemployment benefits online using the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Unemployment Benefits Services (UBS) or by calling TWC’s Tele-Center at 800-939-6631 from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM Houston Time, Monday through Friday.

TWC is experiencing an increase in call volumes and hold times on the TWC Tele-Center phone lines. Effective immediately, TWC is asking that Texans use their area code to find their proposed call and access times listed below. See below the chart for recommended call and access times:

Recommended Call and Access Times:

Area Code of Applicant

Suggested Call Time

Area Codes Beginning with 9

Mon-Wed-Fri 8:00 AM thru 12:00 PM

Area Codes Beginning with 3, 4, 5, 6

Mon-Wed-Fri 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM

Area codes Beginning with 7, 8

Tues -Thurs-Sat  8:00 AM - 12:00 PM 

Area codes Beginning with 2

Tues-Thurs-Sat 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM

Texans will not be penalized for a delay due to call or user volume. Claims for individuals affected by coronavirus are eligible to be backdated. Staggering claims will provide help to reduce frustrations for many Texans and provide better access to needed services.

STUDENT LOAN RELIEF

Right now, with many people wondering how they are going to put food on the table, ongoing regular expenses such as rent/mortgage, utilities, internet, etc. can make it tight on people’s pocketbooks. A new Federal relief program means one major expense won’t be responsible for draining savings… student loan payments.

According to CNN, going forward for the next 6 months, around 85% of Federal student loan borrowers will not have to make payments on their student loans. That includes loans known as Direct federal loans, as well as PLUS loans that parents may have taken out on behalf of their children. The Department of Education made the suspension of payments automatic, so there’s no need to apply for forbearance, however, it never hurts to check with your loan service provider to be sure you qualify.

There are some loans that are excluded from the Federal legislation. Private student loans are excluded from the payment suspension and interest waivers, but some banks are offering debt relief to borrowers during the pandemic, anyway. For example, some loan companies may charge a fee for the ability to postpone payments for a period of time. The advice being given by private loan servicers is: if someone is struggling, they should absolutely call their lender.

The suspension of payments being due will take effect retroactively to March 13, but it could take some time for it to show up on your account.