New York inmates received $34M in federal stimulus checks, per DOCCS

NY News

(WETM) – Inmates in the New York State Department of Corrections and Community of Supervisions received more than $34.3 million in Economic Impact Payments, according to a spokesperson for DOCCS.

The federal government distributed three Economic Impact Payments to Americans starting with a $1,200 check in April 2020 due to the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additional checks worth $600 and $1,400 checks were sent to eligible Americans through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan.

According to the New York State Department of Corrections and Community of Supervisions, eligible inmates received up to three federal stimulus payment checks totaling $34,303,315.81 as of September 2021.

If an incarcerated individual did not receive a stimulus payment, they were provided an IRS 2020 1040 form and directions on how to apply for a rebate.

Several courts have made rulings on whether inmates are entitled to stimulus checks, though some have ruled the money must go towards victim restitution.

In 2020 a U.S. judge ruled the IRS can’t keep withholding coronavirus relief payments from incarcerated people. The legislation passed in March 2020 that authorized the payments of up to $1,200 per person during the pandemic doesn’t specifically exclude jail or prison inmates.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that a U.S. District Court judge agreed to let federal prosecutors use convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s $1,400 COVID-19 stimulus payment, as well as other money held in his inmate trust account, to help pay the millions of dollars he was ordered to pay his victims.

In August 2021, a judge ordered the government to take money from the prison account of former Michigan sports doctor Larry Nassar, who owes about $58,000 to victims of his child pornography crimes. Nassar had received $2,000 in economic impact payments at that point.

Stimulus checks were issued to millions of Americans based on eligibility requirements:

Eligibility for first stimulus and second stimulus checks:

Residency: You are a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or qualifying resident alien.

Taxpayer Identification Number: You or your spouse have a valid Social Security number. You will receive the payment for any tax filers who have an SSN, and any child dependents (if at least one parent has an SSN). If one spouse is a military member, only one spouse needs to have an SSN for both spouses to get the payment.

Dependency: You were not claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.

Income: First stimulus: Your 2018 or 2019 income is under $99,000 (single, or married filing separately) or $198,000 (married filing jointly). Second stimulus: Your 2019 income is under $87,000 (single, or married filing separately) or $174,000 (married filing jointly). You also qualify if you have no income.

Eligibility for third stimulus check:

Residency: You are a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or qualifying resident alien.

Taxpayer Identification Number: Someone in your household has a valid Social Security number (SSN). Any member of your household with an SSN can receive the payment. Dependents with SSNs or ATINs can receive a payment even if both you and your spouse don’t have SSNs. If one spouse is a military member, only one spouse needs to have an SSN for both spouses to get the payment.

Dependency: You were not claimed as a dependent on someone else’s 2019 or 2020 tax return.

IncomeYour 2019 or 2020 income is under $80,000 (single, or married filing separately) or $160,000 (married filing jointly). You also qualify if you have no income.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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