Arriving in a normal white envelope, the prepaid cards holding a $1,200 stimulus payment from the federal government might give people the impression that it is junk mail.
“We know at least one person who got it and was going to throw it away,” said Wendy Glasbrenner, managing attorney of the Georgia Legal Services Program’s Gainesville field office.
Members of the Gainesville and Hall County communities have been trying to spread the word to people who may not realize they are eligible for these economic impact payments.
“It’s come to our attention through our partners, the (Internal Revenue Service), and other entities that many people across the nation and including those in Hall County have not been receiving their benefits because they do not have a forwarding address or do not have a bank account or something to that effect,” said Phillippa Lewis Moss, the director of the Gainesville-Hall County Community Service Center.
Glasbrenner said they have helped a handful of clients since the payments started going out by walking them through the system and checking with the IRS. The number to call for help is 1-833-457-7529.
“A lot of our clients don’t have access to the internet, so some of them we’ve had to do that for them, try to figure out where they are in the system and whether it’s going to work for them to get the stimulus check by direct deposit,” Glasbrenner said.
The Community Service Center, which has programs including free income tax preparation, the Senior Life Center and the Meals on Wheels operation, has heard on and off for the past month from people saying they haven’t received their stimulus payment.
“The larger issue, I think, is that there are a number of people who don’t even know they’re supposed to receive it and don’t even know to ask the question,” Moss said. “Those are particularly homeless individuals who may not have access to regular news outlets, don’t know that this is even occurring, that the economic stimulus funding is available to them.”
Jerry Deyton, a pastor who runs The Way day center serving the homeless meals in Gainesville, said an accountant has helped prepare taxes pro bono in the past few years.
Deyton said they have helped about 25 people file to get their stimulus check. About a fifth of the payments have already arrived.
“Some of them are trying to use it to rent them a place to stay. Hopefully they’ll be able to have enough to pay the deposit and the rent to get a place, but if they don’t have a job they’re not going to keep it long,” he said.
Another person told Deyton they were trying to use the money for a cheap car.
Moss has communicated with a dozen or so community organizations regarding these payments to spread awareness.
“We think it’s important to get these dollars back into our county so we can start circulating them and get business as much back to normal as possible,” Moss said.
According to an IRS publication, Americans without a permanent address qualify for the economic impact payment, and income is not a requirement for the payment.
“Individuals who normally don’t file taxes need to sign up with the IRS to receive their $1,200 payment,” according to the IRS.
The signup tool is at IRS.gov/nonfilerip, and the IRS said it will mail a letter to the person’s last known address “within a few weeks after the payment is issued.”