IRS asks jail inmates to give back their coronavirus stimulus checks

IRS has distributed the coronavirus stimulus check out to some inmates, and is now asking them to give it back.

Published Thu, Jun 25 2020 6:33 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 11:43 AM CST

A new report has come out of the Associated Press in regards to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) asking state officials to assist them in getting the coronavirus stimulus check back from inmates.

IRS asks jail inmates to give back their coronavirus stimulus checks 01 |

According to the Prison Policy Initiative, which is a think tank designed to focus on criminal justice reform, said this past May that the IRS's website didn't specify through certain language that incarcerated people weren't meant to receive the coronavirus relief funds. Then on May 6th, the IRS quickly added to its website a line to its frequently asked questions page that said inmates, or people in prison aren't eligible for the stimulus.

IRS spokesman Eric Smith said to the Associated Press, "I can't give you the legal basis. All I can tell you is this is the language the Treasury and ourselves have been using. It's just the same list as in the Social Security Act." If you are wondering what the Social Security Act is, it's a ban on incarcerated people receiving some insurance benefit payments, including old-age and survivor benefits. At the moment, it's unknown how many prisoners have actually received payments from the IRS.

But it should be noted that many officials in the following states have intercepted checks from the government; Utah, California, Vermont Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Kansas, Idaho, Montana, and California.

According to a tax attorney, Kelly Erb, who spoke to the Associated Press, "I think it's really disingenuous of the IRS. It's not a rule just because the IRS puts it on the website. In fact, the IRS actually says that stuff on its website isn't legal authority. So there's no actual rule - it's just guidance - and that guidance can change at any time."

Wanda Bertram, a spokeswoman for the Prison Policy Initiative, also said, "It appears that the IRS is just making this up."

Prison Policy Initiative's Stephen Raher said, "Providing stimulus funds to incarcerated people helps protect the health and well-being of those behind bars and provides relief to their loved ones at home".

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