Ernst says IRS did the right thing by automatically giving seniors access to direct cash payments

Following initial reports that the IRS was going to require seniors, others to file tax returns in order to receive the direct cash assistance for COVID-19, Ernst and her colleagues wrote a letter telling feds to use authority Congress gave them and qualify seniors automatically.

RED OAK, Iowa – Included in the Phase 3 relief package, Congress gave the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) the authority to waive a tax filing requirement for seniors and others who normally do not file taxes in order for them to receive the direct cash assistance. Early this week, it was reported that the IRS would require these folks to file taxes creating confusion among seniors in Iowa and across the country on whether or not they would get access to the direct cash assistance.

Senator Joni Ernst, and 21 of her colleagues, yesterday penned a letter to the IRS and U.S. Department of Treasury calling on the agencies to automatically qualify seniors for the cash payments. Last night, Treasury clarified that Social Security retirement and disability recipients will not need to file an abbreviated tax return, but the cash payments will be automatically deposited into their bank accounts. 

“In this time of crisis, there’s already so much uncertainty, that’s why it’s vital we communicate clearly to Iowans, and all Americans, about the assistance they will be receiving as a result of the bipartisan relief packages we’ve delivered. I’m glad the IRS and Treasury Department did the right thing, followed through on what we asked, and most importantly automatically qualify our seniors for the direct cash payments,” said Senator Ernst, member of the Senate Small Business Committee.

Senator Ernst has been fighting for Iowa’s seniors throughout this COVID-19 pandemic, including calling for bipartisan action to crackdown on scammers who are targeting Iowa seniors. She also helped secure a number of important relief measures for seniors in the three bipartisan packages Congress passed and that are now law, including:

  • Broadly expanded Medicare’s telehealth services, so seniors can access more care and health services from home.
  • Included free diagnostic COVID-19 testing and free coverage of a future COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Provided additional funding for Aging and Disability Services Programs, which supports senior nutrition, home-delivered meals, community-based services, and family caregivers.
  • Required Medicare Part D plans to provide up to a 90-day supply of prescription medication if a senior requests this during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, Ernst held a telephone town hall last week and heard from many of Iowa’s seniors. Ernst was joined on the call by the state director of AARP Iowa, Brad Anderson, and the dean of the Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa, Dr. Brooks Jackson. 

Background on Ernst’s efforts to combat COVID-19:

Senator Ernst has fought to deliver relief to all Iowans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some of her efforts:

  • Delivered major wins for Iowa’s workers, employers, health care industry, and more in the bipartisan Phase 3 package.
  • Supported  the “Phase 1” bipartisan package to provide additional resources to federal, state and local authorities.
  • Helped pass the “Phase 2” bill to provide paid sick leave, free COVID-19 diagnostic testing, and increased support for nutrition for seniors and children.
  • Called for an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Urged the Senate to prioritize relief for hospitals, community health centers, and workers on the front lines.
  • Announced a proposal to immediately redirect the over $350M in the Presidential Campaign Election Fund to be used to purchase specialized face masks and personal protective equipment.
  • Asked the State Department to immediately act to get Iowans stranded abroad back home.
  • Sought tariff relief for Iowa’s businesses by calling on Treasury to defer all tariffs during the pandemic.
  • Held a telephone town hall with thousands of Iowans to help answer some questions and hear directly from folks.
  • Hosted another telephone town hall with Iowa’s seniors and elderly community.
  • Participated in discussions at the State Emergency Operations Center with Governor Kim Reynolds.
  • Joined Governor Reynolds at her press conference to give an update on federal relief efforts.
  • Discussed the need to work together – at federal, state, and local level – to tackle COVID-19.
  • Published a column on everyone doing their part to protect seniors and fellow Iowans from COVID-19.

For additional information for Iowans on COVID-19, you can visit Senator Ernst’s website, which includes resources for families and individualssmall businesses, and seniors.