Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
Pandemic stimulus money is still available for New Mexicans who have yet to file their 2019 and 2020 tax returns – but they have to act quickly, according to several advocacy groups.
Tax returns must be filed by Monday in order to receive a stimulus check. State and federal tax deadlines were extended by a month this year because of the pandemic.
New Mexico Taxation and Revenue spokesman Charlie Moore said that approximately 821,2019 New Mexicans have already filed their tax returns this year.
He said there is no way to know how many residents still need to file their returns since that number varies year by year, but last year, the state saw 1,047,480 tax returns filed.
“There’s always people who wait till the last minute,” Moore said.
James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, said the stimulus checks can benefit families by helping pay rent or mortgages, stabilize living situations and help with childhood food insecurity.
Unlike previous distributions of pandemic stimulus checks, the American Rescue Plan passed in March made $1,400 checks available for dependents who have a Social Security number even if their parents do not, said Sharon Kayne, a New Mexico Voices for Children spokeswoman. That means children of undocumented immigrants who themselves have legal standing in the U.S. will be eligible for their own stimulus checks.
Previous stimulus checks for dependents were limited to dependents who had at least one parent with a Social Security number.
Kayne said that some families may not have filed tax returns due to either not owing money, having a language barrier, or dealing with housing or incarceration issues.
“We know that the pandemic has been particularly hard on undocumented or mixed-status families,” Jimenez said. “… Just having a little bit of money to help pay the current bill, but maybe even get themselves out of debt a little bit, I think, is one of the most positive things that we are hoping will happen.”
Jimenez said he does not know how many New Mexico families may be in a position where children are eligible to receive stimulus checks and their parents are not, but he said it is not uncommon for immigrant families to be in that position.
He said organizations that work with immigrants have lobbied the government to “make sure that they don’t forget that essential workers include immigrant families, and that we can’t forget a whole part of our population that has helped get us through the pandemic to where we are today.”
In a news release reminding the public of the deadline, immigrant rights groups said this round of stimulus checks goes a long way toward helping children who were left out of previous rounds of checks.
“Getting assistance to mixed-status families not only helps those families get by, but this funding also positively impacts the local economy as they spend this money in their communities on groceries and other necessities,” Marian Méndez Cera, a workers’ justice organizer at El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos, wrote in a statement.
While the state is not involved with the distribution of federal stimulus checks, Moore said there is still time to claim the $600 rebate offered by New Mexico.
The rebate is offered for New Mexicans claiming the Working Families Tax Credit, and filers have until June 30 to claim the rebate if a filing extension has been requested.