The federal stimulus payments now on their way to 150 million taxpayers have generated a flood of questions from consumers, many of whom have expressed frustration at their inability to get an answer — or even someone on the phone — from the IRS. But help is on the way, with the tax agency on Monday saying it's adding 3,500 workers who will take questions about the checks.
However, it's unclear whether taxpayers with complicated situations will be able to get answers about their stimulus checks, as the IRS says the workers will "answer some of the most common questions" about the payments. Based on emails and messages to CBS MoneyWatch, the most common query is when someone will receive their money.
To date, about 130 million of 150 million Americans have received their payments, according to the IRS. The stimulus payments are $1,200 for single people who earn less than $75,000, while married couples who earn less than $150,000 will receive $2,400. Children under 17 are eligible to get $500.
The goal of the payments, which were authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act, is to help Americans weather the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The number to call is 1(800) 919-9835. The phone number connects to an automated message, which states that most taxpayers will automatically receive their payments. It also recommends that consumers check the status of their payment at the "Get My Payment" site.
The line then allows callers to choose from a number of options to learn more, such as to find out if their income is too high to qualify for the stimulus payments. On Monday, the IRS said callers will have the option of talking with a telephone representative at the end of the message.
As of Monday afternoon, however, the service didn't appear to allow callers to connect with an IRS rep. Instead, the line referred callers to the IRS website to get more details about the stimulus payments. It's unclear when the option to talk to a live representative will take effect.
The IRS didn't immediately return a request for comment. The IRS said in the statement that it is "starting to add 3,500 telephone representatives," although it's unclear if these are new hires or existing staff.
Because the IRS shut down its telephone assistance line due to the pandemic, taxpayers haven't had an option to call for more information. On Monday, the IRS said its telephone assistance and other services will remain limited.
Among thoseare some recipients of Social Security benefits for low-income aged, blind or disabled people, with the Social Security Administration noting this month that Supplemental Security Income recipients should soon receive their payments.
The agency this month published a seven-page "how-to" for Social Security recipients, which provides guidance on which steps beneficiaries should take to make sure they get their payments.