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By Michelle Singletary Washington Post

As negotiations for a second stimulus payment falter, the IRS is pushing to finish distributing payments to people who have yet to receive relief funds authorized earlier this year.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, provides stimulus payments of up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for taxpayers filing a joint tax return. The law also includes an extra $500 for each child younger than 17.

Most Americans eligible for an economic impact payment or stimulus payment were automatically sent the money based on their 2018 or 2019 federal return. As of July 31, the IRS had disbursed 163.9 million economic impact payments totaling $273.5 billion, according to a report last month from the Government Accountability Office.

The IRS created an online nonfilers tool that could be used by Americans who earn too little to file a tax return but are eligible for a stimulus payment. At least 9 million people have yet to collect a stimulus payment, because they don’t typically file a tax return, according to the agency.

Under the CARES Act, stimulus payments must be made by Dec. 31. If people don’t receive the payment – which is actually an advance credit – they have to wait until they file a 2020 federal return next year.

To have enough time to issue stimulus payments before the end of the year, the IRS set noon Nov. 21 as the deadline for people to use the nonfilers tool.

Low-income Americans who are nonfilers were previously told they had until Oct. 15 to claim a payment.

Most people receiving Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Veteran and Railroad Retirement benefits should have received a payment already. However, if you have not gotten a payment and you fall into one of these beneficiary categories or you have a nonbeneficiary spouse who still hasn’t received a payment, you’ll also need to use the nonfilers tool by Nov. 21, the IRS said in an update to its economic impact payment information page.

Beginning two weeks after registering, people can track the status of their payment using the “Get My Payment” tool at irs.gov. The stimulus payment will be delivered faster if you elect direct deposit. Otherwise, you’ll be mailed a check.

The Nov. 21 deadline also now applies to parents who receive Social Security, survivor or disability benefits, SSI, Veterans Affairs or Railroad Retirement benefits and who did not get the extra $500 payment. The IRS had told parents they had only until Sept. 30 to use the nonfilers portal.

These federal beneficiaries were automatically sent stimulus payments even if they didn’t file tax returns. But they were required to go online within a very short window and use the nonfilers tool to claim the $500 stimulus payment. Thousands of parents, some disabled themselves and caring for disabled children, didn’t even know about the deadline.

Several parents living in Philadelphia filed a lawsuit against the Treasury Department and the IRS challenging the decision not to send payments to those who missed the deadlines. Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, Villanova University’s Federal Tax Law Clinic and the Berger Montague law firm have teamed up to challenge the IRS’ refusal to send supplemental payments.

“I am pleased that IRS will now provide federal benefits recipients the same extension to use the portal that it was giving all other nonfilers,” said Jennifer Burdick, an attorney with Community Legal Services. “Americans are experiencing unforeseen financial burdens due to the pandemic, and it makes good sense to give parents with disabilities the same opportunity to get the income their families need to get through the year.”

Federal beneficiaries who used the nonfilers tool May 5 through Aug. 15 to provide information on children eligible for the $500 payment don’t have to take further action, the IRS said. Payments will be automatically disbursed either by check or direct deposit.

Burdick said the IRS recently clarified that taxpayer assisters, ranging from social services organizations such as United Way to trusted friends, can use the nonfilers portal on behalf of people who need help.

“This is a very important clarification, because the portal is not always accessible to people with disabilities,” Burdick said. “The IRS clarification makes the portal more accessible in the weeks leading up to the November 21st deadline.”

Since the nonfilers tool launched in spring, more than 8 million people who normally aren’t required to file a tax return have registered for the payments, the IRS said.

Despite the deadline extensions, some people may still not receive a stimulus payment until next year.

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