March 29, 2020

Coronavirus Relief Checks Require Social Security Number So Millions Will Be Left Out

By La Prensa San Diego

La Prensa San Diego

Congress and President Trump just passed the largest government bailout in world history but the over $2 trillion package will exclude millions of residents that do not have Social Security numbers (SSN) and even some that do but live in a household with others that do not.

The coronavirus stimulus package, called the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) includes billions of dollars to provide one-time checks to individuals, with amounts ranging from $1,200 per adult and $500 per child in a household.

But the bill also contains language that requires applicants for the relief checks to have valid SSNs, meaning that the estimated 21 million people that have Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) used for filing tax returns will not qualify for any relief money. ITINs are issued to people that do not qualify for Social Security numbers, usually because of their immigration status, but also includes survivors of domestic violence, Cuban and Haitian entrants, student visa–holders, and certain spouses and children of individuals with employment visas.

The CARES Act also excludes any Social Security number holder that lives in a “mixed-status” household with someone with an ITIN or with people without a SSN. A “mixesd-status” family would not qualify for any CARE Act assistance.

There are en estimated 21 million individuals with ITINs, according to the IRS. In 2015, ITIN holders paid over $11.7 billion in state and local taxes and $23.6 billion in federal taxes using ITINs.

“Shamefully, several million immigrants and their families across the country who are working and paying taxes will not receive a dollar from this COVID-19 relief package,” the National Immigration Law Center said in a statement released after President Trump signed the bill. “Immigrants are on the front lines confronting this virus in our health care sector, harvesting food for our tables, and caring for our loved ones. We had hoped our congressional leaders would have done the right thing and included them in this relief package.”

It is estimated that 93.6% of tax filers will qualify for a stimulus check. People who make up to $75,000 a year are eligible for the full one-time payment of $1,200. Couples who file joint taxes and make less than $150,000 are eligible for $2,400. Parents can also receive an additional $500 for each child.

For people who earn over $75,000, check amounts will be reduced by $5 for every $100 of income above $75,000. For example, a person that earns $80,000 will receive $100 less than the full check, but checks will be limited to those earning $99,000 a year or more, or couples earning $198,000 or more.

Qualifications are based on the income reported in the last tax return filed, either 2018 or 2019. If individuals’ incomes have fallen since their last tax return, they will still have to qualify on their past income levels.

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