BREAKING NEWS: On February 9, 2021, the IRS sent guidance to prison officials around the country explaining how people in prison can obtain their Recovery Rebate Credit (RRC) by filing a 2020 tax return (Form 1040). The “Recovery Rebate Credit” (RRC) is another name for the two rounds of stimulus payments that Congress allocated under the CARES Act and COVID-19 Tax Relief Act. People who have not yet received those payments, or who received less than what they believe they are entitled to, must file a 2020 tax return to obtain the payments now. Read more….

UPDATE: Incarcerated People Are Eligible for Second Round of Stimulus Payments

More updates….

Please be aware that the deadline and the entire process for how to get CARES Act relief funds was set by the government. The Equal Justice Society and Lieff Cabraser’s role was bringing a lawsuit to ensure that the government didn’t prevent incarcerated people and their families from participating in a benefit intended for all Americans.

Original Story: Judge Orders Treasury and IRS to Stop Withholding CARES Funds from the Incarcerated

On September 24, 2020, Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued an Order certifying a nationwide class of people incarcerated in state and federal prisons, and granting the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction requiring the U.S. Department of Treasury, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, and the United States of America to stop withholding CARES Act stimulus funds from plaintiffs or any class member on the sole basis of their incarcerated status.

The Judge’s preliminary injunction further ordered the defendants to reconsider their prior denial of advance refund payments to any person based on incarcerated status within 30 days, whether the denial was based on a 2018 or 2019 tax return, or on claims filed through the IRS’s online “Non-Filer” portal.

Earlier, on August 1, 2020, Lieff Cabraser and the Equal Justice Society filed a groundbreaking lawsuit against the United States Department of the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service on behalf of a nationwide class of people who were incarcerated at any time from March 27, 2020 to the present—that is, people serving a sentence in state or federal prison. The lawsuit seeks to have a court order the Defendants to issue CARES Act stimulus relief to all eligible incarcerated people, or up to $1,200 per eligible person plus $500 per qualifying child.

Note:  This case also benefits people who were incarcerated both before and after March 27, 2020.  If they were incarcerated both prior to March 27 and at least some time afterward, then the IRS may have denied them an Economic Impact Payment based on their incarcerated status.  The Court’s preliminary injunction establishes that the IRS should not have done that.  If they were only incarcerated before March 27, then they were unaffected by the IRS’s policy of denying benefits to incarcerated people, and should a have received a stimulus check.  If they have not, they can file the same steps below to file a claim with the IRS, if eligible.