IRS Congressional Update
News for members of Congress and their staffs – September 2020
Are you eligible for an Economic Impact Payment?
If your income is below $12,200, or $24,400 if you’re married, you probably don’t file a tax return. Even if you aren’t normally required to file a tax return, you may still be eligible for a $1,200 per person Economic Impact Payment and $500 per qualifying child.
You must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or qualifying resident alien and have a work-eligible Social Security number. You can’t be claimed as someone else’s dependent.
You won’t owe taxes on the payment and it doesn’t affect eligibility for federal government assistance or benefits.
Register for a payment by using the IRS’s free Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool through October 15. Do NOT use this tool if you will be filing a 2019 return. To determine if you are required to file a 2019 tax return or if you should file to get a refund, use our Interactive Tax Assistant tool – Do I Need to File a Tax Return? – and answer basic questions. This includes those who file a tax return to get a refund even if though they are not required to file a tax return. For example, working people with low to moderate income who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit may benefit from filing a tax return.
If you don’t have a bank to cash a check or receive a deposit, visit the FDIC website.
Reminder – unemployment compensation is taxable
IRS recognizes that the loss of a job may create new tax issues. The IRS provides the following information about the tax consequences:
- Severance pay and unemployment compensation are taxable.
- Payments for any accumulated vacation or sick time are also taxable.
Workers may be required to make quarterly estimated tax payments. However, they can choose to have federal income tax withheld.
TAS offers EIP help
You should have received a memo from the National Taxpayer Advocate on the Economic Impact Payment cases they are now accepting. Read this from the National Taxpayer Advocate for more information on how the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service can help.
CARES Act grant for higher education is tax-free
There’s good news if you received an emergency financial aid grant from your school because you were financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant is tax-free. Do not include it as income on your 2020 tax return.
Since the grant is tax-free, grant funds you use to pay for educational expenses cannot be used to claim the American opportunity tax credit, lifetime learning credit or the tuition and fees deduction on your tax return.
For more information, please see Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education.
IRS offers services for taxpayers with a visual impairment
Media & Publication’s Alternative Media Center (AMC) provides alternative media resources and accessibility services to IRS employees and taxpayers with disabilities. The AMC’s vision is to create a culture that provides an inclusive environment through equal access to information.
The AMC provides a variety of accessible products to help people who use assistive technology such as screen reading software, refreshable Braille displays and screen magnifying software. These products include tax forms, instructions and publications that can be downloaded or viewed online as Section 508-compliant PDF, HTML, eBraille, text and large print. Please note that every product is not available in all formats. For example, tax forms are not available as HTML.
Taxpayers have two options to obtain accessible tax products. They can download electronic alternative media tax products from the Accessible Forms and Publications page or they can request paper copies in Braille or large print by calling the tax form telephone number at 800-829-FORM (3676).
Through outreach, partnerships with disability organizations, and social media, the IRS provides continuous information to taxpayers about alternative media resources. You can help the IRS spread the word by directing family, friends and taxpayers with visual disabilities to IRS.gov.
Tax Notices and Letters
- Call the tax assistance telephone number at 800-829-1040.
- Fax their notice and a cover sheet to the AMC at 855-473-2006. On the cover sheet, include their name, address, phone number and the preferred format.
- Mail their notice with a note stating their preferred format (Braille or large print) to the AMC at 400 N. 8th St., Room G39, Richmond, VA 23219.
Accessibility Helpline – coming soon
As a new service, the IRS is establishing an Accessibility Helpline to answer questions related to current and future accessibility services and alternative media formats available to taxpayers with disabilities. Stay tuned for more.
For taxpayers who pay estimated taxes
The next two quarterly estimated tax payments for tax year 2020 are due September 15, 2020, and January 15, 2021. IRS Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals, includes instructions to help taxpayers figure and pay their estimated taxes.
IRS electronic payment options, where taxpayers can schedule their estimated and other federal tax payments, are:
- Direct Pay up to 365 days in advance
- Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) up to 365 days in advance
- Payment processor debit, credit card or digital wallet options up to 365 days in advance
Direct Pay and EFTPS are both free payments options, and taxpayers can schedule their payments in advance and opt in to receive email notifications about the payment.
Visit IRS.gov/payments to explore electronic payment options and get more information.
“Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams for 2020; Americans urged to be vigilant to these threats during the pandemic and its aftermath
The annual “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams has special emphasis on aggressive and evolving schemes related to coronavirus tax relief, including Economic Impact Payments.
Largest-ever seizure of terrorist organizations’ cryptocurrency accounts
IRS Criminal Investigation, the Justice Department and law enforcement partners recently announced the dismantling of three terrorist financing cyber-enabled campaigns, involving the al-Qassam Brigades; Hamas’s military wing, al-Qaeda; and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. This coordinated operation is detailed in three forfeiture complaints and a criminal complaint unsealed recently in the District of Columbia. These actions represent the government’s largest-ever seizure of cryptocurrency in the terrorism context.
These three terror finance campaigns all relied on sophisticated cyber tools, including the solicitation of cryptocurrency donations from around the world. The action demonstrates how different terrorist groups have similarly adapted their terror finance activities to the cyber age. Each group used cryptocurrency and social media to garner attention and raise funds for their terror campaigns. Pursuant to judicially authorized warrants, U.S. authorities seized millions of dollars, over 300 cryptocurrency accounts, 4 websites and 4 Facebook pages all related to the criminal enterprise.
Funds successfully forfeited with a connection to a state sponsor of terrorism may in whole or in part be directed to the United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund after the conclusion of the case.
For more information, see Global disruption of three terror finance cyber-enabled campaigns.
- For the latest on IRS operations visit IRS Operations During COVID-19.
- Coronavirus Tax Relief and Economic Impact Payments.
- The IRS Economic Impact Payments: Partner and Promotional Materials page has the latest products to share with low-income or underserved constituents and the agencies and organizations that serve them in your district and state.
- Where’s My Refund?
- How to get a tax transcript
- Notice Mailings – Some Due Dates Extended to Help Taxpayers.
- Small Business/Self-Employed Annual Report (.pdf) (Publication 5409)
- Get the tax information you need in 21 languages.
- Taxpayer First Act.
Help on IRS.gov
IRS in other languages
IRS on social media
IRS2Go is the official mobile app of the IRS, available in both English and Spanish.
The IRS Congressional Update is a monthly newsletter prepared by IRS Legislative Affairs. For information on resolving taxpayer account issues, visit Taxpayer Advocate Service.
NNPA Newswire Correspondent,
With the U.S. Postal Service under assault from the Trump Administration, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi) was among the first to cast a vote in favor of H.R. 8015, Delivering for America Act.
The legislation requires the Postal Service to return to the operations and levels of service in place on January 1, 2020, and throughout the coronavirus public health emergency.
It mandates that all election mail be treated as First-Class mail, and it provides $25 billion in critical funding for the Postal Service – the same level of funding recommended by the USPS Board of Governors, composed of 100 percent President Trump appointees.
Thompson, who began his grassroots political activism being a civil rights champion through the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) while a student at Tougaloo College, will receive the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) 2020 National Leadership Award.
Each year, the NNPA recognizes courageous Americans that have impacted the nation and world in positive ways.
This year’s recipients include: elected officials, a business maverick and an educator. NNPA Board members said while the recipients’ career paths may be varied, the impact of their shared commitment to creating meaningful and beneficial change in the lives of African Americans cannot be underestimated.
“Thank you for the NNPA 2020 National Leadership Award,” Thompson said.
“The NNPA has been the voice of the black community consistently over the years. The Black Press is the premier and trusted voice of black communities unmatched by any other media organization,” he continued.
“Now more than ever, America needs to hear and be exposed to the black perspective. We are dealing with two pandemics: COVID-19 and racism. While dealing with and fighting a global pandemic that disproportionately affects African Americans, we face racism, discrimination and police brutality.”
Born in a state with a unique history of racial inequality, Rep. Thompson said he draws inspiration from the legacies of Medgar Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer, Aaron Henry and Henry Kirksey.
According to his biography, the Bolton, Mississippi native considers it an honor to walk the path that Mississippi civil rights icons paved decades earlier.
Serving his 13th term in the United States House of Representatives, Thompson represents Mississippi’s Second Congressional District, where he has spent his entire life fighting to improve people’s lives.
The longest-serving African American elected official in the State of Mississippi and the lone Democrat in the Mississippi Congressional Delegation, Thompson’s activism began early.
While in college, he organized voter registration drives for African Americans throughout the Mississippi Delta on behalf of the SNCC before graduating and following in his mother’s footsteps by becoming a schoolteacher.
During his tenure educating Mississippi’s youth, a fire inside of Thompson was ignited, pushing him to be a voice for the voiceless. From 1969 to 1972, Thompson served as alderman of his hometown, Bolton, before serving as the city’s mayor from 1973 to 1980.
During his time as mayor, Thompson was credited with improving the city’s infrastructure by paving roads, fixing the water and sewer systems, repairing and renovating dilapidated houses and spearheading the construction of city hall and re-evaluating the town’s real estate.
A founding member of the Mississippi Association of Black Mayors, where he instituted policies and provided services that benefited Bolton’s underserved, Thompson’s services to his hometown increased when he earned election as a Hinds County supervisor, a position he held from 1980 until 1993.
Constituents embraced the then-supervisor’s record of being a pragmatic local servant in Mississippi’s most populous county.
His effective problem solving, and coalition building record served as the bedrock for his election to the Congress in 1993, representing Mississippi’s largest Congressional District composed of the state’s capital city, Jackson, and the Mississippi Delta.
He continues his activism and the fight for racial and social justice today.
“In the African-American community, police brutality has become predictable and expected in most cases,” Thompson stated. “We rely on the Black Press to adequately report these stories by not engaging in victim-blaming. Our stories deserve and should be told. I encourage you to continue to tell our stories.”
The Virtual 2020 NNPA National Leadership Awards will be broadcast September 17 at 7 p.m. on blackpressusa.com and youtube.com/c/blackpressusatv.
To register for the 2020 NNPA Leadership Awards, visit vitualnnpa2020.com.
On August 17 – 20, 2020, the Democratic National Convention was held at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and virtually across the United States. It was the first ever virtual approach to the convention because of the coronavirus pandemic. Democratic leaders from across the nation united to nominate former-Vice President Joe Biden for the presidential nominee and nominate Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) for Vice President. Biden formally accepted the nomination. Senator Harris, Biden’s running mate, made history as the first woman of color to accept a major party nomination after accepting the Democratic Party nomination for vice president. Many democratic party heavyweights, Barack & Michelle Obama, Stacy Abrams, Coline Powell, Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT), etc. spoke in support of Biden and Harris. The convention also lifted the voices of voters concerned about healthcare, the coronarvius pandemic, the economy, immigration, racial justice, and climate change. In his acceptance speech, Joe Biden expressed his desire to reunite a divided country stating, ” United we can, and will, overcome this season of darkness in America. We will choose hope over fear, facts over fiction, fairness over privilege. I am a proud Democrat and will be honored to carry the banner of our party into the general election.” Congressman Thompson represented the state in a different capacity by serving as the permanent DNC convention chair. Giving the closing speech of the convention, Rep. Thompson gave one last rallying cry for all Americans to go to the polls in November and vote for Biden & Harris.