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Since the pandemic began in March, the IRS sent emergency payment checks to at least 159 million people, including people behind bars. But earlier this summer, the agency started blocking payments and disqualifying incarcerated people from their stimulus money. A federal judge in Scholl v. Mnuchin, No. 4:20-cv-5309-PJH (N.D. Cal.) ordered the IRS to give people payments if they qualify for them, even if incarcerated.

*Note: If you filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return or if you receive Social Security or Railroad Retirement Benefits, you should receive an automatic payment in the mail or bank account on your tax filings.

CARES ACT

On September 24, 2020, U.S. District Judge, Phyllis Hamilton for the Northern District of California issued an order requiring the U.S. Department of Treasury, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, and the United States of America to stop withholding CARES Act stimulus funds from people, on the sole basis of their incarcerated status. On October 5, 2020, the IRS announced it was extending the deadline for filing online claims to November 21, 2020. 

The CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid Relief And Economic Stability Act) is a $2 trillion dollar federal stimulus package that provides fast and direct economic assistance to protect the American people from the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19. Eligible individuals can receive up to $1,200 per person, or $2400 for married couples filing jointly, plus $500 per qualifying child.

Partners

Last month we partnered with Sister Warriors Freedom Coalition, and together, we sent over 800 IRS forms, envelopes, and stamps to women currently detained in California prisons. But we aren’t stopping there— we’re expanding our efforts with a nationwide initiative to get everyone paid.

FAQ’s

Yes, your loved one is eligible if all of these are true.

  1. You are a U.S. Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident.
  2. You filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019 or you were exempt from doing so because your income in 2019 was below $12,200 a year or, if married and filing jointly, below $24,400.
  3. You were not claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax return.
  4. If you are married, or if you have children, both your spouse and your children have a valid social security number (unless: your spouse served in the Armed Forces in 2019)
  • Full name + Department of Corrections Identification Number
  • Facility Address
  • Date of Birth
  • Social Security Number

Yes. You are eligible for an advanced payment even if you had zero income in 2019.

Yes. The IRS will mail checks to people without bank accounts.

You can file electronically until 12:00 pm / 3:00 pm ET Saturday, November 21, 2020.

  • Most jails and prisons do not allow internet access, so it seems improbable, that incarcerated individuals could follow the IRS’ instructions for providing information online. The instruction on the IRS website don’t explicitly say that a representative friend or family member can’t apply on their behalf.
  • If they have a bank account in their own name, the IRS could deposit the money into the account. However, specifying another person’s bank account or address risks the government delaying or denying the payment.
  • If they prefer the IRS to send their check to the prison, consider that most checks sent to people in California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) prisons have 55% deducted: 50% to pay restitution and the remainder as an administrative fee.

*Note: the IRS will deduct past owed child support debt.

It can take between 4-6 weeks to process payment. Once the payment goes out, the IRS will send you a letter that the payment was made. If you receive a notice from the IRS that it sent you payment but you did not receive it, you can call the IRS helpline at 800-919-9835.

This site was created for people currently in prison, and individuals with incarcerated loved ones. If you have an incarcerated loved one, we encourage you to share this information within your community.

Additional Resources
1 in 4 Women and 1 in 2 Black Women Have A Family Member in Prison

Do You Have Questions or Need Additional Support?

The purpose of this survey is to collect information from people with incarcerated loved ones so we can access the need, connect you to the right support, and scale our mutual aid initiative. By providing us with this information you agree to receive periodic commmunication from Color of Change and Sister Warrior’s Freedom Coalition as it relates to this campaign.

First Name*

Last Name*

Are you requesting support for an incarcerated loved one?
Are you currently incarcerated, or recently released?
Are you filing an online claim for your incarcerated loved one?
Name?
Facility Address?
Identification Number?
Do you have any additional questions?

By taking action, you will also receive periodic communications from ColorOfChange. By providing your mobile number you consent to receive cell phone and text communications from ColorOfChange and its affiliated entities concerning news and action opportunities. Message and data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe at any time by texting STOP to 55156.

Would you like to receive recurring updates about this campaign?​

By taking action, you will also receive periodic communications from ColorOfChange. By providing your mobile number you consent to receive cell phone and text communications from ColorOfChange and its affiliated entities concerning news and action opportunities. Message and data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe at any time by texting STOP to 55156.