Tester, Colleagues to Treasury: Give Veterans Swift Financial Relief

Senators “encourage the IRS to continue working toward reducing barriers for non-filers claiming recovery rebates”

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester, the Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, is continuing his weekslong push to ensure Montana’s veterans receiving benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) can swiftly get their recovery rebate checks from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

In a bipartisan letter to Administration officials today, Tester and his colleagues urged the Treasury Department to provide critically needed cash assistance to veterans without income tax liabilities during the COVID-19 crisis.

“Many of our veterans, particularly those with serious, service-connected disabilities, earn little to no income outside of the benefits they receive from the Department of Veterans Affairs,” Tester and his colleagues wrote to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and VA Secretary Wilkie. “As such, many are not required to and do not file an annual federal tax return. Recently, Treasury used its authority to provide recovery rebate payments to Social Security and Railroad Retirement beneficiaries, without the need to file a tax return. We believe that veterans receiving benefits through the VA should and must be treated the same way, and encourage the IRS to continue working toward reducing barriers for non-filers claiming recovery rebates.”

Under the CARES Act, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will automatically send stimulus payments to eligible taxpayers who filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return, creating additional barriers for Americans who do not typically file tax returns. The IRS recently issued updated guidance that it would use existing Social Security Administration records to generate recovery rebate checks for Social Security recipients who did not file tax returns for those years. The Senators are pushing Treasury to identify eligible veterans, including those in receipt of disability compensation and pension payments, and provide recovery rebate checks “as promptly as possible.”

The letter continues: “We can all agree that our veterans have earned more than we can ever repay for their dedicated service. That is why we request that your Departments work together to identify and provide recovery rebate checks to eligible veterans, without the need to file a federal tax return. Your Departments should also alert Congress of any barriers preventing any action from being taken. If left unchanged, this may impose a burden on our heroes, and many veterans may never receive the financial support they need and have earned.”

As Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Tester has been leading the charge to ensure veterans receive the financial support they are owed. Earlier this month, Tester joined his Republican counterpart on the committee in urging VA's Under Secretary for Benefits to deliver relief money under the coronavirus stimulus package to eligible veterans in a timely manner. He later doubled down on this effort, by calling on officials in Washington to establish a system where VA beneficiaries are not required to needlessly file a tax return during the pandemic. 

Read the full letter HERE.