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Following Delgado and Katko Push, IRS Opens Phone Lines to Answer Stimulus Check Questions

May 21, 2020

RHINEBECK, NY—Last month, U.S. Representative Antonio Delgado (NY-19) and Representative John Katko (NY-24) led a bipartisan effort to restore Internal Revenue Service (IRS) customer service operations and ensure Economic Impact Payments (EIPs), administered by the IRS, are efficiently distributed to working families who have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Their letter called on the IRS to speed up the process of distributing checks and restore phone service to assist those who live in rural areas or lack consistent rural broadband. Following this letter, the IRS announced they will restore phone service to respond to stimulus check questions. Americans can now call 800-919-9835 and have the option to speak with an IRS telephone representative.

"The CARES Act was signed into law more than a month ago and the American people need to see their stimulus checks now. I am glad to see the IRS heeded our bipartisan call to restore phone service and make sure upstate residents can speak to a live person when asking about the status of their payment," said Rep. Antonio Delgado. "This is a first step—I will keep demanding answers on behalf of upstate residents to ensure every single person gets the economic impact payments they are entitled to by law."

"Alongside Rep. Delgado, I led a bipartisan push to urge the IRS to restore their customer service operations. Today, I am pleased to announce that they have granted our request, launching a new phone number to assist Central New Yorkers with questions related to Economic Impact Payments (EIPs). Individuals and families across Central New York remain confused and frustrated with the current IRS processes in place. With many experiencing difficulties finding reliable information on the status of their EIPs, I welcome this change by the IRS. In the coming days, I will continue to encourage the IRS to listen to the concerns of taxpayers and make necessary improvements to their operations," said Rep. John Katko.

A copy of the original letter can be found here and below:

April 24, 2020

Dear Commissioner Rettig:

Thank you for your continued leadership in the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The IRS has an important role to play in administering the Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) established under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which will provide vital support to millions of families nationwide. We appreciate your work in ensuring these payments are distributed efficiently and effectively.

As you are aware, millions of Americans are anxiously awaiting EIP payments to help them make ends meet during these unprecedented times. Additionally, many families and businesses are counting on their annual tax refund to address financial hardships resulting from COVID-19. The IRS is a key player in administering both of these services and in protecting the economic health of American households nationwide.

Unfortunately, many Americans are confused and frustrated regarding the status of their EIPs and tax returns. As taxpayers struggle to find accurate and reliable information on these services, it is especially concerning that many traditional avenues for assistance such as IRS call centers are unable to function as a result of the ongoing pandemic response. In response to this confusion, our offices have received overwhelming outreach from constituents with valid and urgent questions regarding their EIPs and tax returns. We are committed to helping our constituents, however, additional guidance from the IRS is necessary to ensure American families receive the relief they have been promised.

While we are grateful to the IRS for your hard work in creating an online portal for taxpayers to receive updated information on many of your services, further assistance is needed for Americans who lack reliable internet access or have case-specific questions. In the interest of avoiding further challenges in distributing EIPs and tax returns, we ask that you provide additional information regarding steps the IRS will take to ensure that every American has access to your services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, we ask that you provide guidance regarding resources that Congress may need to provide as you work to properly implement EIP distribution and adapt routine taxpayer services to the unprecedented challenges facing our nation.

Thank you for your time and attention to this request. We recognize the challenge the IRS faces in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and commend your agency for your hard work in facing these obstacles.