A message from the Commissioner — Economic Impact Payments: IRS helping 150 million Americans one payment at a time


April 14, 2020

In a normal year, the nation would be focused this week on April 15, Tax Day. But there’s nothing normal about this year, and in addition to the personal effects of the coronavirus, the country is focused this week on something entirely different with the receipt of Economic Impact Payments beginning. IRS employees have proudly worked around the clock to successfully launch and deliver Economic Impact Payments, which are reaching millions of taxpayers right now.

These payments are desperately needed by people hit by the aftermath of the coronavirus. IRS employees did what they always do – stepped up and delivered in this time of need to start the first round of these payments ahead of schedule. Thanks to their hard work late into the night and across weekends, taxpayers started seeing the first Economic Impact Payments of $1,200 or more in bank accounts on Friday. Today and through the rest of this week, many more taxpayers will see their payments.  Working with the Treasury and the Bureau of Fiscal Services (BFS), IRS successfully calculated payments totaling almost $150 billion for more than 80 million households. Ironically, the official posting date for these deposits is April 15. Additional rounds of payments will continue, ultimately helping more than 150 million Americans.

This is a remarkable achievement that we should all be proud of, and one that wouldn’t have happened without the tireless work of people across this agency. There was nothing simple about this complex undertaking, during the 2020 Filing Season, and it required huge efforts at record speed by coordinated teams within and across IT, W&I, Chief Counsel, OLS and many, many others. This all occurred seamlessly while we rescaled IRS operations during the closure of more than 90% of our buildings and maintained required core IRS operations with over 47,000 employees teleworking and others remaining in various facilities.

Let me put this accomplishment in some historical perspective. The CARES Act was signed into law on March 27. Only 14 days later, on April 10, the first Economic Impact Payments were received in taxpayer bank accounts. During this period, the law was reviewed, programming was written and extensively tested, individual payments were calculated and then information successfully executed and relayed on through the nation’s financial system. There have been daily conference calls involving leadership and staff from many IRS functions and with representatives from both Treasury and BFS. There’s nothing simple about this process, and nothing compares to what the IRS achieved in those two short weeks.

Compare this to 2008, the last time the IRS was asked to deliver stimulus payments to taxpayers. The 2008 Economic Stimulus Act was signed into law Feb. 13, 2008. Following work by the IRS, the first payments were generated on April 28, 2008 – 75 days later. Our 14-day delivery on the Economic Impact Payments shaved more than two months off the last time the IRS was asked to do this.

Simultaneously, IRS employees also delivered two special tools on IRS.gov to help taxpayers understand the law and provide millions of people who don’t normally file a tax return a way to quickly register for these payments. Many more people are entitled to these payments, and these tools will help. In this regard, our extensive outreach efforts continue to the national, state and local communities, general and tax-related media, state and local tax authorities and others. However, we have also reached beyond our normal contacts in an effort to get these payments distributed to many lower income, non-filers, military, veteran and homeless communities who might otherwise not step up to provide information that would enable the IRS to generate the payments on their behalf. Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement Sunita Lough and I have personally interacted with groups directly engaged with the underserved communities in our country. Many others, including outreach teams in C&L and elsewhere, have been working on this as well. To continue our success, we need to provide help to these communities in a significant manner, and I encourage you to share information with family and friends.

During this difficult time for our nation, there are many things we can’t control right now. But there are some things we can control, and this is an outstanding example of what we can achieve.

This is certainly among the greatest ever accomplishments by ONE IRS. Every employee, no matter their position or location, owns this achievement – this couldn’t happen without agency-wide support and assistance. IRS employees have a long history of successfully rising to challenges, and once again, we have had the opportunity to positively benefit the lives of almost every American.

On behalf of almost 150 million Americans, thank you for making a difference!

In closing, I’d like to acknowledge the recent passing of an employee in Atlanta from the coronavirus. Our sympathies and prayers go out to the employee’s family and colleagues. There are few words that one can convey that could appropriately describe the effects of the coronavirus on each and every person. Stay safe, enjoy your families and friends, and reach out to others in need.