Stimulus Payment Assistance


Emancipate NC is working on efforts to make sure incarcerated people get the CARES Act stimulus funds (COVID-19 payments) they are entitled to. In March and April 2020, it was discovered that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was routinely denying people who were incarcerated on March 27, 2020 or anytime after from receiving their payments.

On August 1, 2020, Lieff Cabraser and the Equal Justice Society filed a lawsuit against the United States Department of the Treasury and the IRS demanding that incarcerated people in state and federal facilities be granted their payments. Eventually, on September 24, U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton ordered the Treasury and the IRS to stop withholding payments to anyone who is incarcerated. You can read more about this case at the Washington Post. 

During Fall 2020, Emancipate NC hosted a hotline for incarcerated people to get information about the stimulus. Nevertheless, many individuals did not get their stimulus payments during 2020.

If your incarcerated loved one did not get their stimulus money in 2020, they can file a Tax Year 2020 Form 1040 to claim it. THE EXTENDED DEADLINE IS NOW OCTOBER 15, 2021. We have been sending this packet to our contacts in North Carolina state prisons and we are in communication with the General Counsel’s Office about ensuring people have access to their stimulus money.

NCDPS states:

  • The Department of Prisons has been instructed to post the IRS guidance in all facilities and make 1040 forms for the 2020 tax year available on request. 
  • The IRS guidance makes clear that incarcerated individuals can apply for the RRC if they did not receive any or the full amount ($1,800) of first round CARES Act stimulus funds. 
  • Inmate Banking cannot process funds from the debit cards to offender trust accounts. For individuals who received stimulus funds through debit cards, they are given the opportunity to (a) mail them home for a loved one to process funds back into offender through JPAY, or (b) the last resort is sending the debit card back to IRS, in which the individual could then submit a 1040 form to claim the RRC.
  •  If legal advocates want to send legal mail addressed to specific incarcerated people, that is allowed, although mass mailings to unaddressed individuals is not permitted.  



Emancipate NC’s Kerwin Pittman discusses the new eligibility of incarcerated people to get their stimulus payments.