Gardner Says IRS Did the Right Thing by Automatically Giving Seniors Access to Direct Cash Payments

Following initial reports that the IRS was going to require seniors, others to file tax returns in order to receive the direct cash assistance for COVID-19, Gardner and his colleagues wrote a letter telling feds to use authority Congress gave them and qualify seniors automatically.

Washington, D.C. – Included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Congress gave the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) the authority to waive a tax filing requirement for seniors and others who normally do not file taxes in order for them to receive the direct cash assistance. Early this week, it was reported that the IRS would require these individuals to file taxes creating confusion among seniors in Colorado and across the country on whether or not they would get access to the direct cash assistance.

U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) and 21 of his colleagues yesterday penned a letter to the IRS and U.S. Department of Treasury calling on the agencies to automatically qualify seniors for the cash payments. Last night, Treasury clarified that Social Security retirement and disability recipients willnot need to file an abbreviated tax return, but the cash payments will be automatically deposited into their bank accounts.

The full text of the letter is available here and below:

Dear Secretary Mnuchin and Commissioner Rettig: 

On Monday, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released information regarding the Economic Impact Payments established by H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the “CARES Act,” which was signed into law on March 27, 2020. We were concerned to see the IRS indicate they would require a tax return to be filed for those who normally do not file taxes –including many seniors and Social Security recipients – to receive the payment.

Our offices have already fielded many questions from seniors with concerns and questions about their eligibility for Economic Impact Payments, and what is required of them to receive the payment. At a time of great danger and stress for our seniors, we fear that requiring them to submit paperwork will exacerbate the challenges they face and create confusion, especially since they do not have access to tools that would normally be at their disposal, such as Tax Counseling for the Elderly.

We respectfully request that you work to ensure that seniors who normally do not file taxes have the ability to receive Economic Impact Payments automatically. The CARES law allows the IRS to provide Economic Impact Payments based on Form SSA-1099 Social Security Benefit Statements, and we encourage you to work with the Social Security Administration to utilize this and other tools as needed to accomplish this task.


Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.