Despite it being over 18 months since the last COVID-19 relief check was approved by the federal government, the Government Accountability Office estimates that at least 9 million Americans are still eligible for payments.
The government said that many of those who have not claimed a check have little to no income and lack internet access. Those who are still eligible for a check generally have not been required to file a tax return for the last few years.
The government said those eligible for payments who do not owe back taxes have until Nov. 15 to file a simplified tax return.
The latest checks were sent out in March 2021. Americans making up to $75,000 a year were sent a direct payment of $1,400 (couples making up to $150,000 a year got $2,800). Heads of households making up to $112,500 annually received the full $1,400.
The government estimated that 165 million Americans were eligible for the last round of COVID relief checks.
Those with eligible children who also have not filed a tax return for 2020 and 2021 also have until Nov. 15 to claim an expanded child tax credit. The government increased the child tax credit temporarily last year.
“Part of the challenge for the IRS and Treasury in 2020 was they only had data on taxpayers that had previously filed taxes,” the GAO said. “Since a broader set of families were eligible for the COVID-19 stimulus payments and the expanded CTC, Treasury and IRS reached out to around 9 million Americans to let them know they were eligible for the relief payments. In May 2021, the Treasury Inspector General identified potentially 10 million individuals eligible for payments. As of June, IRS had no plans to conduct additional outreach.”
The public can file a simplified tax return through the IRS website.