As Tax Filing Season Begins, Pappas Calls on IRS to Address Tax Refund and Direct Payments Issues Hindering Granite Staters

February 19, 2021
Press Release

As tax filing season begins, Congressman Chris Pappas (NH-01) called on IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to address a series of outstanding issues regarding the implementation of COVID-19 relief packages.  

“Over the last year my office has helped resolve hundreds of constituent cases to ensure Granite Staters receive their Economic Impact Payments, federal tax refunds, and other financial support they are owed to get through these trying times,” said Congressman Pappas. “As we mark the beginning of a new and more complex tax filing season, I am calling on the IRS to resolve these pervasive problems regarding the implementation of so many COVID relief provisions.”

Specifically, Congressman Pappas called on the IRS and the Treasury Department to ensure all Granite Staters receive their Economic Impact Payments, ensure Recovery Rebate Credits are enacted as intended and not withheld from individuals with federal debt, and to reconsider extending the shortened tax filing season to ensure that all Americans have enough time to file their taxes accurately to receive the full amount they are owed in COVID relief payments and tax refunds. 

You can read the full text of the letter below:

Dear Commissioner Rettig and Secretary Yellen:

I write to urge the IRS to act on several issues my constituents in New Hampshire have been facing as the IRS works to implement the policies Congress has passed to support the American people during the COVID-19 pandemic. I applaud President Biden’s Executive Order directing the Treasury Department to reach all eligible Americans still waiting for their Economic Impact Payments, as I remain concerned about my constituents’ access to their tax refunds and direct payments.

First, I have grown increasingly concerned that many of my constituents have yet to receive their full Economic Impact Payments (EIP) and are struggling to access accurate information from the IRS about their status. I have heard from many Granite Staters who have yet to receive the direct payments that Congress passed as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act in December 2020, including married couples that received incorrect payment amounts and Social Security beneficiaries who received the first payment automatically but are still missing the second. Constituents are frustrated by the difficulties they face in simply determining the status of their missing payments, with many being told they have not received it due to issues with their 2019 tax returns. While my office has been working diligently with the IRS to alleviate these issues, many people are still left unsure whether they will receive a direct payment or be forced to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 returns. I urge the IRS to take immediate action to both disburse the EIP directly to all those who have yet to receive one and to provide additional clarity to the American people about how and when they will be able to access these payments.

Second, as tax season approaches and millions of Americans are being directed to claim the EIP as the Recovery Rebate Credit, I am concerned that the IRS’s interpretation of the tax credit will result in the withholding of some or all of the payment for individuals who owe a federal debt. Not only does the requirement to file a 2020 return to access the payment place a disproportionate burden on the individual, this approach to administering the tax credit means that millions of Americans may never receive any direct payment at all. The employment of EIPs in this manner contradicts the fundamental purpose of the payments themselves: to provide immediate financial relief to Americans during this nationwide period of hardship. I request assurance from the IRS that the Recovery Rebate Credit will not be utilized to offset federal debts and will instead be sent directly to the Americans who are entitled to them, as was intended.

Further, as we approach this year’s deadline for filing, I am still hearing from constituents across New Hampshire that have still not received their tax refunds from last year. People across the nation view their refunds as a reliable source of funds to help cover daily expenses and use their previous year’s tax return as a guide for their new filing. For many, going without their 2019 tax refunds has only compounded the financial hardships people are facing because of the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. I urge the IRS to prioritize these unprocessed 2019 returns, as well as the 2020 returns filed by individuals who have not yet received their Economic Impact Payments.

Finally, my constituents are very concerned about the shortened upcoming tax filing season. Delaying the start of the tax season without also postponing the filing deadline, combined with ongoing processing delays and outstanding 2019 refunds, only compounds the stress and anxiety that many are feeling about their financial security and well-being. Because I am concerned that this shortened filing period will present continued challenges for the IRS and the American people, I urge you to consider extending the tax filing deadline so that a greater number of Americans will be able to file accurately and on time.

Thank you for your consideration of this request; I am grateful for the many dedicated professionals at the IRS who are diligently serving the American people, despite critical funding and personnel shortages amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. I look forward to receiving your response and working together to support the American people during this pivotal moment in our nation’s history.