Burying in an already depressing New York Times article about how homeless Americans struggle to get their stimulus checks is an even more depressing accusation: Finance siblings are offering to help homeless people receive their stimulus payments, not out of the goodness of their hearts, but in return for a large tax.
The story was shared by Steven Todd, who lives in the Mainchance homeless shelter in Manhattan. Todd told The Times’ Andy Newman that “‘educated children working in finance’ went to the homeless and offered them stimulating money – for a commission of hundreds of dollars.” “People were happy to have anything,” Todd added. “It wasn’t fair.”
Todd’s account was no longer confirmed by Newman and it was not easy to identify similar accounts in the news; however, if true, the story is another black eye on a stimulus program that has simultaneously supported millions and left many Americans behind.
Stimulus controls are not accessible to homeless people
More than 156 million families have already received the third incentive allowance. However, there are still many who are waiting not only for the third payment, but also the first and second. Those who have not received their funding can be divided into two categories. The first are those who are entitled to payments, but were not automatically accepted because they did not need to submit the tax return. Many of these people did not bother to apply because they did not believe they were eligible or were being hampered by bureaucracy. Second, there are individuals who are expressly excluded from Congressional policy, including undocumented immigrant spouses and children.
Most people experiencing homelessness fall into the first category. Many are eligible for stimulus checks because anyone with a Social Security number earns less than $ 75,000 and cannot claim it because someone else’s employee is eligible. However, “some of the people who would benefit most from the money are having a harder time getting their hands on it,” Newman wrote. “This big intention is to lift people out of poverty more and support them, and that’s lovely,” Beth Hofmeister, an attorney for the Legal Aid Society’s Homeless Rights Project, told the New York Times. “But the way people can access it doesn’t fit with the way most low-income people interact with government.”
Many homeless people are eligible for $ 3,200 in stimulus checks
Given the eligibility criteria, many homeless people should be eligible for all three stimulus checks: $ 1,200, $ 600, and $ 1,400. This is not a trivial amount of money and yet it highlights a bigger problem. While the federal government has used trillions to help Americans, aid often fails to reach poorer Americans.
The IRS and the federal government should do more to ensure that all eligible Americans are able to receive stimulus payments. “People don’t need a permanent address or a bank account. They don’t need to get a job, “the IRS wrote.” For eligible people, the IRS will still issue a payment even if they haven’t filed a tax return in years. “While the IRS is in partnership with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in a campaign to identify banks and credit unions that offer low- or no-cost accounts, the barriers for homeless people are higher.
The IRS must create an information campaign to help eligible individuals file a basic tax return and spread the message that they do not need a permanent address to file their tax return. A person experiencing homelessness can “go to the address of a friend, relative or other person they trust. The person can also enter the address of a reception or day center, where they can collect their mail. ”
Lisa Rowan of Forbes Advisor gives some good advice in an article entitled “How to Get an Incentive Payment If You Are Homeless”. He says community-based social services organizations can often help. “Many of these organizations will allow people to use their business address to allow homeless people to receive their benefit checks, tax returns or other important documents,” Laura Scherler, senior director of economic mobility and business solutions, told Rowan about United Way. Another option is to contact a place of worship to receive mail or go to a local post office and ask for the postal service.
The stimulus payments have helped millions of Americans struggle with the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. It is up to the government to ensure that so many eligible people have the knowledge and opportunity to receive their stimulus checks. Furthermore, no one should prey on those who suffer from homelessness by taking part of their payment in exchange for helping them receive a stimulus allowance.