The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) estimates that approximately nine million people have not yet received their stimulus payments, officially known as Economic Impact Payments. Implemented as part of the CARES Act to help offset the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS began delivering $1,200 payments to individuals ($2,400 for married couples, plus $500 for each dependent child) in mid-April. Yet, millions of dollars will remain unclaimed if people do not register with the IRS by October 15, 2020.
“The delivery of stimulus payments presents a unique situation here on Cheyenne River and most of Indian Country,” says Lakota Vogel, Executive Director at Four Bands Community Fund, a nonprofit organization.
The IRS largely relied on information provided on tax returns to deliver the stimulus payments, and also provided an online tool for non-filers to register. On Cheyenne River, about 12% of all families earn less than $25,000 per year, which means they typically don’t file tax returns. Over half of all households do not have internet, which prevents access to the IRS’ non-filer tool and further complicates the situation.
“Unfortunately, the people who have the greatest financial need have experienced the most difficulty in obtaining their stimulus payments. We know these payments will make a big difference, so we are taking steps to help our community members who might not know they’re eligible or don’t know how to claim their stimulus,” says Vogel.
Four Bands will have staff available to provide clarification on who qualifies, for how much, and how to receive stimulus payments. Staff will walk people step-by-step through the process of claiming the funds they are eligible for. Assistance will be provided by appointment only and in compliance with social distancing guidelines. Appointments can be made by calling Cora Mae Haskell at 605-964-3687.