IRS chief: agency reaching out on pandemic relief payments

WASHINGTON (AP) - The IRS chief, who is on the defensive against millions of Americans who are at risk of missing out on coronavirus aid payments, said Wednesday the agency is targeting low-income and homeless people, military personnel and veterans as well Individuals with limited English to notify them may be eligible for the benefit.
People who don't normally file tax returns are among the target audiences, said Charles Rettig, commissioner for the Internal Revenue Service, at a hearing by a board of directors of the House.
A congressional guard determined that millions could miss payments of up to $ 1,200 per person due to incomplete government records. Nearly 9 million people who are eligible for the so-called economic impact payments have not yet received them, the Government Accountability Office recently estimated.
"People can't afford to just wait. They need that support now," said Gerald Connolly, Democratic MP of Virginia, who heads the governing body of the House Oversight Committee.
One day after President Donald Trump broke off talks with Democratic leaders in Congress about a new COVID-19 aid package, he urged, among other things, the passage of new $ 1,200 aid checks on Wednesday.
The general payments were commissioned in late March as part of an unprecedented $ 2.6 trillion in aid from Congress to cushion the blow from the global pandemic-triggered recession and economic shutdowns. Since then, according to Rettig, the IRS has made around 170 million payments totaling over $ 270 billion, mostly by direct deposit, but also in the form of checks or prepaid debit cards.
"Although the IRS has sent out the vast majority of these payments, it continues its extensive outreach efforts in the historically underserved communities of our nation," he told the hearing.
All adults earning an adjusted gross income of up to $ 75,000 per year are entitled to $ 1,200 ($ 2,400 for married couples filing together) - with those amounts steadily decreasing for those who earn more and those who earn more than earn $ 99,000, expire completely. There are payments of up to $ 500 for each eligible child.
The panel's legislature opposed the IRS's reduced funding, which is now being weighed down further by the pandemic. Delayed income tax refunds, hindered auditing and enforcement efforts and a loss of revenue for the Treasury Department are the results. Technological errors in an outdated agency system forced the closure of call centers and taxpayer assistance centers in this year's filing season.
Funding for the IRS, long a punching bag for Republican lawmakers who blamed it for intruding too far into taxpayers' lives, has fallen by about 21% since 2010. An independent IRS watchdog has warned the funding cuts have undermined the agency's ability to improve their lives, technology, and fulfill its role of collecting taxes and enforcing the law to prevent fraud.
Democrats said the limited resources have resulted in a double standard of stricter audits for low-income people, while the wealthy can hide incomes and claim dubious deductions to evade their full tax obligations. "Some taxpayers, often the richest of us, including possibly the current President of the United States, are not paying their taxes properly," Connolly said.
He cited Trump's claim for a $ 70,000 deduction for hair styling expenses on his TV show "The Apprentice".
"Most of us don't have a trigger," Connolly quipped.
Trump's near-zero tax payments have underscored the ability of wealthy individuals with high-priced accountants to outperform the IRS. Trump declared losses of hundreds of millions in recent years, leaving him to pay only $ 750 in income tax the year he entered the White House and 11 of the 18 years that came from New York Times checked in a year, no income tax report at all last week.

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