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Program director says Wyoming needy face obstacles to getting COVID-19 relief checks

 

April 9, 2020



Program director says Wyoming needy face obstacles to getting COVID-19 relief checks

Individuals with adjusted gross incomes of up to $75,000 will receive $1,200 relief checks due to the coronavirus pandemic, but some low-income people or those without internet may need help in getting theirs, said the director of a University of Wyoming program that helps income-qualifying residents.

“Most Wyomingites could use some extra cash even in the best of times,” said Mindy Meuli, program director of the Cent$ible Nutrition Program in the University of Wyoming Extension. CNP helps people cook and eat better for less money. “My biggest concern is that those who need relief the most won’t get it.”

People already in the databases at the IRS or the Social Security Administration will automatically get checks. But many low-income people and some veterans who don’t usually file taxes may need to take action, she said.

Relief checks began being issued April 9 to those who have direct deposit information on file. For others, a paper check may not reach them for months, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

Low-income people who haven’t filed their 2019 taxes yet can use the IRS’ free filing option on its website to file taxes and will shortly be able to upload direct deposit information to the IRS through a special portal.

“But many in Wyoming don’t have internet access and may be unable to use the form, especially now that libraries and tax assistance groups aren’t fully functioning,” Meuli said.

Plus, many in the state don’t have a bank account for direct deposit of the check, Meuli pointed out. They cash checks at check cashing companies and get loans through credit cards or payday lenders, she said.

“If they don’t have a financial institution they use, they will have difficulty receiving the payment, or it will be delayed,” she said. “They’ll need to set up an account when most banks are closed to human contact. And a permanent address with ID is needed, which may not be possible for everyone.”

As to what to do with the money when it arrives?

UW Extension personal finance specialist Cole Ehmke suggests if you don’t plan to spend your relief check on essential household and family expenses, then consider saving the money.

“We’ve got a long way to go before this situation plays out,” Ehmke said. “Wyoming businesses and local government are going to feel a crunch.”

The coronavirus relief funds will be available through all of 2020. The filing deadline for personal income tax is now July 15. Details on uploading direct deposit information will be at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus.

 
 

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