IRS Opening Phone Lines, Prepaid Debit Cards, and More

This is my stimulus update for Tuesday, May 19.

Let’s start with some good news.

So first thing I want to talk about is these phone lines, the IRS said yesterday that they’re adding 3,500 phone operators to answer stimulus questions at the number at the bottom of the Trump letter, which is 1-800-919-9835, that’s 1-800-919-9835.

They said, “Answers for most Economic Impact Payment questions are available on the automated message for people who call the phone number provided in the letter (Notice 1444). Those who need additional assistance at the conclusion of the message will have the option of talking to a telephone representative.”

But I tried calling this number yesterday as well as this morning, and all I got was an automated message no matter which buttons I press, so I’m not convinced that that is operational yet.

OK, debit cards. So yesterday the Treasury announced that they will be sending out 4,000,000 stimulus payments by prepaid debit cards rather than paper check.

This is funny, because right when I released my video yesterday about Mark Cuban’s debit card idea, I heard this news about these debit cards, anyway.

They’re calling them “EIP Cards,” where “EIP” obviously stands for “Economic Impact Payment,” which is what the IRS calls the stimulus.

And they say these cards will be issued to those without bank information on file with the IRS, and whose tax return was processed by either the Andover or Austin IRS Service Center.

I don’t know off the top of my head what Andover processes, but I know that Austin processes returns for residents of Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. And I think the possessions too, but anyway they’re saying that Metabank, Treasury’s financial agent, will start mailing these cards this week so potentially some people might receive their cards this week.

Two observations here:

1. Treasury is obviously changing the game here, I mean, so what did the Get My Payment tool tell these people for the past few weeks who will actually be receiving an EIP Card? Did it tell them “Payment Status Not Available”, did it tell them “Paper Check”? I’m curious, I haven’t seen reports of this, but I’m curious if any of you are seeing EIP Card as your payment method in Get My Payment.

2. People have asked me in the comments if I think this is setting up another round of stimulus, of course that’s possible, we saw that report last week that the White House is open to another round of stimulus, haven’t seen a whole lot about that since then, and Republicans haven’t completely put away that idea, but what I don’t think this is is Treasury setting up America for universal basic income to the tune of $2,000, $4,000, $6,000 dollars a month because if you’re getting $6,000 a month, while previously you made $3,000 a month at your job, you have very little incentive to go back to work, and Republicans want people back to work, this is what I’ve been saying for a long time now. If you’ve been watching Mnuchin this morning in his virtual testimony to Senators about the CARES Act, he said about reopening, he said there is the risk of permanent damage to the economy the longer we continue this shutdown, they’re conscious of the health issues, and the administration wants the country to reopen in a safe and balanced way.

And just taking Mnuchin’s statements at face value yesterday about these debit cards, what did he say, he said, “The direct deposits have gone out, we’ve started sending out the checks, we’re also going to be supplementing our capability and sending out prepaid debit cards so we can get money out quickly to people.”

Mnuchin is positioning this debit card thing as a speed and efficiency thing so that’s as far as I’m going to say on that, I would be extremely curious if any of you are seeing “debit card” or something like that in Get My Payment.

– Pelosi calls Trump fat

– Trump hates Fox news

– Mnuchin debit cards

– IRS phone reps

– PPP forgiveness


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