Treasury Heeds Senators’ Concerns After Lawmakers Point Out That Treasury Guidance Contradicted Language of COVID-19 Bipartisan Package

WASHINGTON, D.C. [04/02/20]—Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) shared that late last night the U.S. Treasury Department heeded concerns voiced by Sen. Smith and her colleagues and announced that Social Security recipients will automatically receive direct cash assistance included in the third bipartisan emergency coronavirus relief package—known as the CARES Act—without having to file tax returns.

This follows an earlier call on Wednesday from Sens. Smith and her Democratic Senate colleagues—led by Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)—raising alarm over guidance the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued earlier this week that said Social Security beneficiaries would need to file tax returns in order to receive direct cash payments. This directly contradicted the CARES Act, which had made clear that the Treasury Department had the authority to send automatic direct cash assistance to Social Security beneficiaries regardless of whether they file taxes.

“As cash payments are expected to arrive in the coming weeks, I fought to help make sure Minnesota seniors and people with disabilities will be able to get the help they deserve made possible through the third bipartisan emergency coronavirus relief legislation,” said Sen. Smith, a member of the Senate Banking Committee. “When we put together that legislation—known as the CARES Act—it was our intent that these individuals would get direct cash payments without having to jump through hoops. But when the Treasury Department came out with their guidance, it did not line up with Congressional intent. I’m glad Treasury has reversed course and I’m glad my colleagues and I could deliver for Minnesotans and all Americans.”

You can access the letter sent Wednesday here.

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