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Those missing stimulus should act now

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — More than 72,000 potentially eligible New Mexicans have yet to receive their federal stimulus payments – and time is running out for them to claim that money in 2020.

The Internal Revenue Service released a state-by-state list of nearly 9 million Americans – including 72,333 New Mexicans – who may be eligible for the $1,200 economic impact payments authorized by the federal CARES Act earlier this year, but have not yet received those payments.

To raise awareness, IRS spokesman David Tucker said the federal agency is planning to mail letters to people in this position, encouraging them to check whether they’re eligible for the program through the IRS website before the deadline on Oct. 15.

This artwork by William Brown relates to concerns that the U.S. economy is stalling, despite government stimulus efforts.

“We are trying to make them aware that, if they meet the eligibility requirement, that they could be receiving up to $1,200,” Tucker said.

The CARES Act, signed into law in March, provided a mix of stimulus efforts following the initial economic downturn associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, including providing $1,200 direct stimulus payments to many Americans, along with related payments for dependents.

Most Americans who file taxes received the checks earlier in the year, through mailing addresses, direct deposit accounts and other methods.

Because the payment was based on recent tax returns, Tucker said people who didn’t file taxes in 2018 or 2019 may not have received the stimulus payments.

“These are people who don’t have a filing requirement because they made very income or no income,” Tucker said.

In New Mexico, the zip code with the highest number of people on the IRS list was 87121, which includes Southwest Albuquerque and surrounding rural areas.

The letters from the IRS encourage recipients to check their eligibility for the program using the agency’s online tool for non-filers, which can be found at www.irs.gov. The tool is available in English and Spanish.

“Just receiving the letter alone is not a guarantee of eligibility,” Tucker said.

Tucker said people without access to the internet can also file simplified paper tax returns before Oct. 15. He added that people can still receive the payments after the Oct. 15 deadline, but they would need to file a 2020 income tax return in April 2021 and claim the recovery rebate credit.

“Then you’re going to be getting money well after that deadline,” Tucker said. “That’s why we’re trying to make people aware now.”

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