Gainesville outreach services are guiding homeless people on how they can receive the third round of stimulus payments.
Internal Revenue Service media relations specialist Karen Connelly said since the first round of stimulus payments, the IRS has been working extensively with partners and outreach groups across the country to reach the homeless community.
“These efforts helped many in the homeless community sign up for payments, but more remain eligible,” she wrote in an email.
According to Connelly, those who filed a tax return earlier or used the Non-Filers tool on IRS.gov last year will generally receive the third stimulus check automatically. She added that those who have yet to file a tax return, or signed up previously, remain eligible for all stimulus payments by filing a 2020 tax return.
According to Three Rivers Legal Services outreach advocate Mark Watson, local outreach workers have worked with the homeless community in Gainesville to receive this round and the previous rounds of stimulus payments.
Kimber Tough, homeless outreach advocate for Southern Legal Counsel, said the process for those with no income or only Social Security income is much simpler than normal.
“If you have zero income, then you just report that,” she said. “Homeless people don’t tend to file taxes. And the only way the stimulus checks work is through filing taxes. You get no penalty when you have no income or make below a certain amount, so there’s not really an incentive for people to file, but their stimulus checks are their first incentive in a while.”
Tough said it is usually one form, Form 1040, which most people use to report their income.
According to Connelly, people who did not get or did not receive the full amount of the first two checks will need to file a 2020 tax return to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit even if they are not required to file a tax return.
People with an income of $72,000 or less can file their federal tax return electronically for free with IRS Free File.
“IRS Free File is a great option for people who are only filing a tax return to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit,” Connelly said. “There are also free volunteer sites available to assist eligible people file current year returns and claim the RRC. There are outreach functions within the Service that help spread the word to various organizations.”
Connelly indicated that further details about various outreach products for partners can be found on IRS.gov. Additionally, people should visit IRS.gov/filing for details about IRS Free File, Free File Fillable Forms, free VITA or TCE tax preparation sites in their community or for help with finding a trusted tax professional.
Patrick Dodds, director of the Continuum of Care at United Way of North Central Florida, said his organization offers the VITA Program, which provides free tax preparation assistance for low to moderate income or no income individuals within the community.
By dialing 2-1-1, anybody currently experiencing homelessness, anyone who has experienced homelessness, or anyone who is currently using shelter services can reach United Way’s helpline for community resources.
“So in this case, if you needed assistance filing your non-filer status, which I would say the vast majority, if not all of the folks who are experiencing homelessness, would qualify because they don’t have a high enough income,” Dodds said. “They would be able to get that assistance through VITA, and they would set an appointment up, and then the VITA program, the staff and volunteers would be able to help them to file that non filer.”
After claiming the checks on the 1040 form as rebate credit, the money will go to the address or bank on file. Tough said this is usually a mailing address, a general delivery address at the post office or somewhere safe to receive a paper check. A form of identification is required to cash the check.
For those who do not have a bank account and do not wish to open one, the IRS can mail an Economic Impact Payment Card, which functions like a debit card.
Below are resources in the area where homeless people can find services to help them through this process.