Meet Your Neighbor: Ladder Up & Get My Payment Illinois Coalition

Meet Your Neighbor: Ladder Up & Get My Payment Illinois Coalition

Despite reports of a possible second round of Economic Impact Payments, many Illinois residents have not even received their first payment. Although $266 billion has been paid out to 158 million households, many individuals who need financial help in the wake of COVID-19 have been unable to access stimulus payments. Recently, we spoke with Christine Cheng of Ladder Up about their involvement with the Get My Payment Illinois coalition.

Can you tell us a little bit about Ladder Up and the Get My Payment Illinois coalition?

At Ladder Up, we give hardworking people access to the tools they need to move up the economic ladder by providing free tax preparation, legal counsel, college financial aid assistance, and financial education.

The Get My Payment Illinois Coalition was formed as a way to help ensure that as many Illinois residents as possible can access accurate and relevant information to secure the federal economic impact payments included as part of the CARES Act that passed in late March. These one-time stimulus payments are worth up to $1,200 for eligible individuals but many of the individuals who need these payments the most are those least likely to receive them. This includes individuals who make less than $12,200 and are not required to file taxes, people experiencing homelessness, people who do not have a bank account, and people who lack access to the internet.

The Get My Payment Illinois Coalition comprises several nonprofit organizations – the Economic Awareness Council, New America Chicago, Heartland Alliance, Heartland Human Care Services, Woodstock Institute, and Ladder Up.

It is estimated that approximately 392,000 Illinoisans did not receive their stimulus payment through the IRS. Can you explain some of the logistical issues and reasons for this delay in payment?

The estimate cited here is the number of Illinoisans who will not receive the stimulus payment automatically (i.e. because they do not have a 2018 or 2019 tax return on file or they are not Social Security, Railroad Retirement, or VA benefits recipients). See this report for more information.

This population of Illinoisans who will not receive an automatic stimulus payment will need to submit their information to the IRS using the IRS non-filer website, which is found at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here. Individuals in this population include those who are below the tax-filing threshold and thus do not have a 2018 or 2019 return on file.

Some individuals within this population have submitted their information through the IRS non-filer site and successfully received their stimulus payments. However, there remain a significant number of individuals who have yet to do so, in part because of barriers including:

  • Lack of awareness that they are eligible for the payment and/or knowledge of how to secure it
  • Lack of access to the internet to be able to submit the information online
  • Lack of a stable mailing address at which to receive the payment (i.e. for those experiencing homelessness)

How has this negatively impacted Illinois residents?

Many Illinois residents were experiencing poverty before the pandemic hit, and many more residents are now experiencing economic hardship due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. These stimulus payments serve to meet basic needs in many cases, and delays in receiving the payment negatively impact people’s ability to provide for themselves and their families.

How is the Get My Payment Illinois Coalition working to resolve this situation for residents?

The Coalition operates an informational website (www.GetMyPaymentIL.org) and staffs an email help desk (help@getmypaymentil.org) as well as a telephone hotline (888-553-9777) to address questions. The website highlights payment eligibility and provides answers to many frequently asked questions. It also provides information about safe, low-cost banking options available through the Bank On program and tax help.

The Coalition also provides training for nonprofit organizations seeking to increase access to the stimulus payments for the clients they serve.

We are also sharing our experiences with decision-makers and other stakeholders – highlighting barriers to getting the payment, lifting up potential solutions to these issues, and featuring the stories of people who have had difficulty accessing their payment that we all can learn from.

What steps can people who have not received their stimulus payments take to reconcile this situation?

It will be important for them to first establish if they need to take any action to receive the payment, and if so, which specific action they need to take.

For instance, if someone is not set to receive the payment automatically, they should then determine if they have a tax-filing requirement – if so, they should seek to file their 2019 return as soon as possible, electing to e-file their return if possible as the IRS is experiencing significant delays in processing mailed paper returns.

If they do not have a tax-filing requirement and would not stand to receive a refund if they did file a return, then they should submit their information to the IRS using the IRS non-filer site as soon as they can to register for payment.

There are many unique situations, and we will continue helping Illinoisans overcome the various obstacles between them and the payments they deserve. More information is available at getmypaymentil.org/ or by contacting the Coalition at help@getmypaymentil.org or (888) 553-9777.

Thank you for your time!

We would like to thank Christine Cheng of Ladder Up for her time and input. If you have comments or know an organization we should feature, please suggest them in the comments section below or via our Facebook page. (You can email us via this contact form)

And as always, thanks for reading!

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