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Can people who are incarcerated receive Economic Impact Payments (EIPs)?

Are people who are incarcerated entitled to Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) from the federal government?

A recent federal court order certifies a nationwide class of people incarcerated in state and federal prisons, and requires the U.S. Department of Treasury, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the United States of America to stop keeping  CARES Act stimulus funds from people only because they are incarcerated.

As a result of the court order, the IRS must:

  • Pay stimulus relief to people who are incarcerated as long as they are eligible for the payments Send payments to people by October 24, 2020 who had their EIP taken away because of incarceration
  • Re-consider any claim for a refund check that was previously denied by the October 24th, 2020
  • Send informational packets to people covered by the lawsuit by October 27th that include:
  • Send a letter to correctional facilities notifying officials about the informational packets and urging them to distribute the contents to all incarcerated individuals as soon as they arrive. (Click here to see a copy of the cover letter the IRS sent).

Who is eligible for the Economic Impact Payments (EIP)?

You are eligible to claim the EIP if all the following requirements apply to you:

  1. You are a U.S. Citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR)
  2. You are not married to someone who lacks a social security number, or have a child who lacks one (unless you or your spouse served in the Armed Forces in 2019)
  3. You filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019 or you were exempt from doing so because your income in 2019 was below $12,000 a year or, if married and filed jointly, below $24,400.
  4. You were not claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax return.

My loved one is incarcerated and authorized me to file a claim on their behalf – is that okay?

The IRS has not provided clear directions about this situation.   The best option is for the claimant to fill out and sign  the paper  Form 1040.

What is the filing deadline?

Paper claims on Form 1040 must be postmarked by  November 4, 2020.  If you have access to a computer, you may file online by November 21, 2020 at 3pm.

How do I file a claim and  what information will I need?

If you filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return or you receive Social Security Benefits or Railroad Retirement Board Benefits, you do not need to file a claim.  However, if you did not file a 2018 or 2019 tax return and your income was below $12,200 (or $24,400 if filing jointly) in 2019, then you should file an online claim through the IRS’s website.

You will need:

  1. Name
  2. Mailing address
  3. Email address
  4. Date of birth
  5. Valid Social Security number (unless you have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) and are married to a military member)
  6. Bank account and routing number (if you want a direct deposit into your account rather than a check)

If you will be including dependents in your filing, you will need the following for each qualifying child:

  1. Name
  2. Social Security number or Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number
  3. Relationship of child to you or your spouse

I don’t have access to a computer. What are my other options?  

You can complete IRS Form 1040 (Use this IRS Form 1040 if you are 65 or older). Take a look at this sample form for assistance filling out the form. If you live in Ohio, you should mail it to:

Department of Treasury
Internal Revenue Service
Fresno, CA 93888-0002

If you are not currently incarcerated, you can request help completing an online claim by contacting the Cuyahoga Earned Income Tax Coalition.  Call 216.293.7200.

Can I make a claim if I don’t have a bank account? Where will my check go?

The IRS is circulating a new advisory about a requirement that some incarcerated fund recipients have their checks sent to specific prison P.O. Boxes or trust accounts. You may use your institution address as your “Home Address” on Form 1040 (even if it is a P.O. Box). If you do, include your inmate identifying number after your last name (i.e. “Smith #98765-432”). See this flyer for an example.

What if I already applied for a stimulus check before September 24th and was rejected? Or what if my stimulus check was intercepted or returned?

The court order directs the IRS to automatically re-process these claims by October 24, 2020. After October 24, 2020, check the IRS website to view the status of your claim at

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