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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
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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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
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

What does the unemployment picture look like?

It depends on where you live. The national unemployment rate has fallen from nearly 15% in April down to 8.4% percent last month. That number, however, masks some big differences in how states are recovering from the huge job losses resulting from the pandemic. Nevada, Hawaii, California and New York have unemployment rates ranging from 11% to more than 13%. Unemployment rates in Idaho, Nebraska, South Dakota and Vermont have now fallen below 5%.

Will it work to fine people who refuse to wear a mask?

Travelers in the New York City transit system are subject to $50 fines for not wearing masks. It’s one of many jurisdictions imposing financial penalties: It’s $220 in Singapore, $130 in the United Kingdom and a whopping $400 in Glendale, California. And losses loom larger than gains, behavioral scientists say. So that principle suggests that for policymakers trying to nudge people’s public behavior, it may be better to take away than to give.

How are restaurants recovering?

Nearly 100,000 restaurants are closed either permanently or for the long term — nearly 1 in 6, according to a new survey by the National Restaurant Association. Almost 4.5 million jobs still haven’t come back. Some restaurants have been able to get by on innovation, focusing on delivery, selling meal or cocktail kits, dining outside — though that option that will disappear in northern states as temperatures fall. But however you slice it, one analyst said, the United States will end the year with fewer restaurants than it began with. And it’s the larger chains that are more likely to survive.

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