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COVID-19

Families that didn’t get $500 stimulus payments for children now have another chance

David Brancaccio, Nova Safo, and Alex Schroeder Aug 17, 2020
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Juanmonino via Getty Images
COVID-19

Families that didn’t get $500 stimulus payments for children now have another chance

David Brancaccio, Nova Safo, and Alex Schroeder Aug 17, 2020
Heard on:
Juanmonino via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

With the $1,200 stimulus payments from the federal government, parents were promised an additional $500 for each child they claimed as a dependent. But many low-income parents never got that money. Now the IRS is giving them another chance to collect.

Marketplace’s Nova Safo is following this story, and the following is an edited transcript of his conversation with “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio.

Nova Safo: In order to get stimulus checks out to people quickly, the government relied on recent tax filings and information the government already had about those getting federal benefits, such as social security payments. For parents, it got a little more complicated: If you’d claimed dependents on your 2018 or 2019 tax returns, you got an additional $500 for each child.

But a lot of low-income parents fell through the cracks if they didn’t file tax returns, because they were not required to. Since these parents were getting federal benefits, they were told they’d get the stimulus checks automatically — they didn’t have to do anything else.

Then the IRS suddenly said, “Oh, but you do have to tell us about your children for the additional $500 payments,” and it gave just two days for parents to respond.

A lot of people missed that deadline and didn’t get the additional money.

Brancaccio: OK, so a reset. What’s the new approach now for families to get the $500 for each dependent kid?

Safo: The IRS is reopening registration on its website. Parents have to fill out information in what’s called a “non-filers tool.”

This is, again, for people who have not filed a 2018 tax return and do not plan on filing a 2019 tax return. They have until the end of September to tell the IRS about their dependent children. The agency says payments will go out in mid-October, six months after people first started receiving stimulus checks.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

So what’s up with “Zoom fatigue”?

It’s a real thing. The science backs it up — there’s new research from Stanford University. So why is it that the technology can be so draining? Jeremy Bailenson with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab puts it this way: “It’s like being in an elevator where everyone in the elevator stopped and looked right at us for the entire elevator ride at close-up.” Bailenson said turning off self-view and shrinking down the video window can make interactions feel more natural and less emotionally taxing.

How are Americans spending their money these days?

Economists are predicting that pent-up demand for certain goods and services is going to burst out all over as more people get vaccinated. A lot of people had to drastically change their spending in the pandemic because they lost jobs or had their hours cut. But at the same time, most consumers “are still feeling secure or optimistic about their finances,” according to Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, which regularly surveys shoppers. A lot of people enjoy browsing in stores, especially after months of forced online shopping. And another area expecting a post-pandemic boost: travel.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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