Minnesota Opinion: Money wolves are out, and they want your check
Summary: IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig issued this statement: "We urge people to take extra care during this period. The IRS isn't going to call you asking to verify or provide your financial information so you can get an economic impact payment or your refund faster. ..."
Now that $1,200 stimulus checks are coming to most Americans, the proverbial wolves are out, lurking in the dark corners in hopes of picking off the vulnerable.
The checks are part of the CARES Act, the $2.2 trillion federal package intended to help the nation through the pandemic and also to stimulate the economy. Americans who earn $75,000 or less (as a single tax filer) will get the full $1,200; those who annually earn between $75,000 and $98,000 will receive smaller payouts, while those earning more will not receive a stimulus check. The threshold for joint tax filers is $150,000 for a full stimulus check, and $198,000 for a partial check.
As part of the package, the government also is paying an additional $500 per child.
So for most families, this is a serious windfall. Hopefully, the money will help make ends meet or, in some cases, be spent on items that will -- as intended -- boost the economy. Our hope is that readers strongly consider using those dollars locally, rather than purchasing items online from a retailer that has no local ties.
Meanwhile, scammers are out there.
A report earlier this week by Bloomberg News notes that the IRS is bracing for an epidemic of crimes, such as identity theft or stealing checks from mailboxes.
Also, scammers are posing as IRS employees or Treasury Department officials in hopes of getting personal information of check recipients.
Earlier this month, IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig issued this statement: "We urge people to take extra care during this period. The IRS isn't going to call you asking to verify or provide your financial information so you can get an economic impact payment or your refund faster. That also applies to surprise emails that appear to be coming from the IRS. Remember, don't open them or click on attachments or links. Go to IRS.gov for the most up-to-date information."
And here’s more, again directly from the IRS: “In most cases, the IRS will deposit economic impact payments into the direct deposit account that taxpayers previously provided on tax returns. Those taxpayers who have previously filed but not provided direct deposit information to the IRS will be able to provide their banking information online to a newly designed secure portal on IRS.gov in mid-April. If the IRS does not have a taxpayer's direct deposit information, a check will be mailed to the address on file. Taxpayers should not provide their direct deposit or other banking information for others to input on their behalf into the secure portal. The IRS also reminds retirees who don't normally have a requirement to file a tax return that no action on their part is needed to receive their $1,200 economic impact payment. Seniors should be especially careful during this period.”
Again, the IRS is reminding people that no one from the agency will be reaching out to them by phone, email, mail or in person asking for any kind of information to complete their economic impact payment.
Readers, please beware and remember: The wolves are out, and they want your check.
This editorial is the opinion of the Grand Forks Herald's editorial board.