Is the Stimulus Fair?
This is my stimulus update for Monday, April 13.
If you’d rather watch than read, check out the YouTube version here!
1. Is the Stimulus Fair?
So as you know, these current stimulus payments are not adjusted for cost of living.
If you live in New York or Hawaii, and you’re a single individual making $75,000 or less (for example) with no children, and you can’t be claimed as a dependent, you’re getting the same $1,200 as someone in a lower cost of living state like Alabama or West Virginia.
Well, apparently all twelve of the Congresspeople in the U.S. House of Representatives from New Jersey — ten Democrats and two Republicans, if you count Jeff Van Drew, of course, who switched from Democrat to Republican this past December — got together and wrote a letter to Speaker Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stating how angry they are that the stimulus package was not adjusted for cost of living.
Here’s the crux of it: “We continue to request that cost of living adjustments for localities are made when considering further economic stimulus payments to residents and businesses.”
Why? Well, they go on to say that “in places such as Mississippi or Arkansas, the same $1,200 checks that New Jersey residents will receive have the equivalent spending power of $1,670 and $1,605, respectively,” and that people make more in New Jersey, so more people are above the phaseout, etc.
I see their point, but apart from the fact that this would really slow down the process, how granular are we going to get?
Would it just be state-by-state? I mean, some states are huge and have wildly different costs of living from one area to the next.
Here in California, in San Francisco, the median home price is north of $1 million (maybe this crisis will change that, and maybe it already has), but there are other parts of the state in the middle of nowhere where you can easily buy a decent house for a fifth of that or less.
So would you do it by state? By county? By city?’
And I have to think that this will slow down the payment issuance process significantly.
And also — just a thought — if these expensive states want to help their residents (especially considering the high tax burden in a lot of them) maybe they should cut their residents their own stimulus check instead of asking old Uncle Sam.
Or maybe this could be payback for that $10,000 SALT cap that disproportionately hit high-cost-of-living states.
But what do you think? Please let me know in the comments if you think that the next round of stimulus should be cost-adjusted based on where you live or not. Also let me know what state you live in so we can see where you’re coming from.
2. Direct Express
Now let’s talk about Direct Express because there’s some confusion about the issue that’s going on right now.
So first thing some of y’all need to know is that not everybody has a bank account.
I know for some of you that’s like, “What…I’ve always had a bank account!”
OK, but not everybody has a bank account. Millions of Americans do not have a bank account.
For example, many recipients of federal benefits have a Direct Express card, and that’s the only financial account that they have.
This Direct Express card is a Mastercard debit card — Comerica Bank is currently the agent — and each month these folks get their benefits loaded up on this card, and they can use it just like any other Mastercard debit card.
But they have no way of knowing the direct deposit information associated with their card because that’s not disclosed.
So I’ve seen a lot of people tell these folks, “Oh, just fill out your information on the IRS website.”
Well, it’s not that simple because they could find Comerica Bank’s routing number on the internet, but they don’t know their deposit account number, and they have no way of accessing that information, and there’s nowhere on the IRS site to input just their Direct Express card number, so there’s where the confusion lies.
Of course I’ve asked SSA about this in several different ways, but they just come back with the same old line, “We’re working on it with Treasury.”
3. Tax Extension Deadline
Someone asked: “I usually don’t file until the October 15 deadline because I usually file an extension. Do I have to file my extension by April 15 or July 15?”
The answer is July 15.
It’s right here on the IRS website: “You must request the automatic extension by July 15, 2020. If you properly estimate your 2019 tax liability using the information available to you and file an extension form by July 15, 2020, your tax return will be due on October 15, 2020.”
I’m still trying to get information from TurboTax and Jackson Hewitt Serve Card and Green Dot and others about if you got your refund on their card, is your stimulus going to go to that card?
I’ll be sure to update you if I hear anything, but my suspicion is that we won’t hear anything before the IRS Get My Payment Tool comes out.
The Get My Payment tool comes out supposedly by this Friday, and you can go on there and input your Social Security Number, Date of Birth, and Mailing Address, and you can track the status of your payment, and then you’ll have your answer.
I feel like — as you probably have — that I’m just getting the runaround by these companies with this inquiry, but hopefully it will be cleared up when the Get My Payment tool comes out.
But of course that’s an IRS tool, so we’ll see what happens.
5. Crisis Helpline
Someone told me about this site crisistextline.org where if you or someone you know feel like you’re really struggling with this situation right now — not just financially but really emotionally or relationally — you can text HOME to 741741 to text with somebody about what you’re experiencing right now.
If the first two texts you get back look automated, that’s because they are, but after you respond telling them what’s up, you will be matched with a crisis counselor
Please know that this individual is a trained volunteer. They’re not a psychologist. They’re not a doctor, they’re not a psychiatrist, they’re not an MD. So they can’t provide you with medical advice or diagnose anything.
Just view them as someone to talk to or rather text with during this time.