After the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act authorized COVID-19 stimulus money for most Americans, the IRS sent out or scheduled around 159 million payments worth more than $267 billion in total.
But while the majority of Americans received some stimulus funds, some groups of people residing in the U.S. were left out. One of those groups could soon get money: U.S. citizens in families with mixed immigration status. Here's why.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle want to provide funding to Americans who were left out
The CARES Act that authorized the first COVID-19-related stimulus payment included a rule that prevented payments from going to citizens with Social Security numbers who filed jointly with someone who had an Individual Taxpayer ID Number (ITIN). ITINs are commonly used by non-citizens.
That meant if a citizen was married to someone who filed with an ITIN, they'd have a choice between getting no stimulus money or filing as married filing separately (which comes with a host of tax consequences).
Now, there's bipartisan support to change that rule and make sure citizens who are entitled to stimulus money get it, even if their spouses don't have Social Security numbers.
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives addressed the ITIN issue in the HEROES Act, which passed along party lines and authorized a second stimulus check. Under the HEROES Act, not only would all ITIN filers receive the second stimulus payment, but it also retroactively makes the CARES Act payments available too. As many as 4.3 million U.S. adults and 3.5 million children would benefit from this change, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. Individuals affected would actually get two stimulus checks if the HEROES Act passes -- the first one and the second.
Two Republicans -- Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Thom Tillis of North Carolina -- also want to retroactively change the CARES Act rule that excluded millions of mixed-immigration status families. Their bill, the American Citizen Coronavirus Relief Act, is far narrower than the HEROES Act and doesn't propose a second stimulus check. However, it would allow U.S. citizens who file jointly with non-citizen spouses to get the first stimulus payment. And it would make stimulus funds available to dependent children under 17 who are citizens, as long as at least one of their parents is also a citizen.
While the introduction of this bill doesn't necessarily mean there's majority support for this proposal, the fact that some prominent Republicans are on board with offering COVID-19 money to families with mixed immigration status does mean there's a chance this group could get some funding if lawmakers can reach a compromise to provide it. It also makes it much more likely they'd be included if a second payment is authorized.
There's no guarantee anyone will get more stimulus money
While it's a good sign some lawmakers on both the right and left want to provide stimulus funds to those who were left out in the CARES Act, there's no guarantee this will happen -- or that any proposal to provide additional direct payments to Americans will actually gain majority support.
Since there may be no more coronavirus relief money even with the country in a recession, it might be better to explore other aid available if you need it. Expanded unemployment benefits provide an extra $600 per week through the end of July, for example, and the government is also providing some tax credits for small businesses to encourage them to assist struggling employees.
The CARES Act also provided for expanded paid sick leave and family leave, as well as putting some protections into place against foreclosure and eviction. Checking into these other provisions of the coronavirus relief legislation could benefit you even if you were left out of the CARES Act's stimulus checks the first time around.