The checks are not yet in the mail.

Taxes

Crawling toward the finish line. After another long day of last minute arguments, the Senate finally passed its version of its massive COVID-19 response bill. The measure includes direct payments to individuals, a major expansion of unemployment benefits, assistance for small businesses, medical providers, and large corporations, and aid to states. The House still needs to approve the bill before it goes to President Trump for his signature.  

How soon can the IRS get coronavirus relief payments out the door? TPC’s Janet Holtzblatt considers the capacity of the IRS staff to distribute payments to as many as 150 million households. “I hope the IRS can get those checks out speedily, but I expect… a lot of disappointed people who will have to wait months. And who will blame the agency for delays.” A Senate Republican aide predicted it would take about 3 weeks for the IRS to make direct deposits and 4-5 weeks to send checks.

No, the  coronavirus rebate isn’t a universal basic income. TPC’s Len Burman explains why the one-time coronavirus payment being considered  by Congress is not the same as a UBI, the idea recently promoted by former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang.  The rebate is not universal, not an ongoing monthly payment, and not funded. On the other hand, a UBI might make future anti-recession tax cuts easier for Congress. The stimulus payments would be only the latest installment in a long history of ad hoc economic relief for recessions. 

The restaurant glitch may finally be fixed. The stimulus bill includes a provision to fix a measure in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that inadvertently extended the write-off period for restaurant and retail equipment. Not that any of these businesses are making capital investments right now. 

IRS announces People First Initiative. The agency has temporarily adjusted or suspended key compliance programs. The agency will delay sending to collections certain payments related to Installment Agreements and Offers in Compromise  and will limit some enforcement actions. The changes will run  through July 15, while the  IRS  avoids in-person contacts. 

Taxpayer Assistance Centers are temporarily closed in response to COVID-19. To ensure the safety and health of IRS employees and taxpayers, nearly every tax issue will have to be addressed  online. Tools and resources are here.

About that IRS filing extension. In a series of answers to FAQs, the IRS tries to clear up some of the confusion around its extended tax filing deadline. Returns and payments are now due on July 15 .  

For the latest tax news, subscribe to the Tax Policy Center’s Daily Deduction. Sign up here to have it delivered to your inbox weekdays at 8:00 am (Mondays only when Congress is in recess). We welcome tips on new research or other news. Email Renu Zaretsky at dailydeduction@taxpolicycenter.org.

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