[This resource was created in partnership with The National Network for Youth]
Cash going directly to youth experiencing homelessness has been shown to significantly help these youth stabilize and exit homelessness. Economic Stimulus Payments are one way to get cash directly to young people who need it the most. We know that young people and those helping them access these funds have encountered multiple barriers. This tip sheet is the best advice we have received.
Help young people file their own 2020 taxes as soon as possible and have the tax return linked to a bank account. There will not be a non-filers portal for 2020, so tax filing is the only way for youth to be sure the IRS has their information. If this is done successfully, then the youth may still have an opportunity to access stimulus checks from 2020, as well as be in a better position to receive any 2021 stimulus payments that may be disbursed. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has partnered with several organizations to help people prepare and file their federal individual income tax returns for free.
Some details for youth who were incorrectly claimed on their parent/guardian’s taxes as a dependent: The IRS has stated that if the youth is eligible for the stimulus payment and has not received it, the youth should file a 2020 tax return and claim the Recovery Rebate Credit. If a young person does this, it is recommended that they attach to the return a written explanation clearly indicating that they were incorrectly claimed as a dependent on a parent’s tax return and that they should have received the stimulus check on their own behalf. It will be helpful if the explanation is detailed and includes the years in question (e.g. parent’s /guardian’s 2018 and/or 2019 tax return) as well as the names of the taxpayers (parents/guardians) that claimed the youth to facilitate the verification process. Please note that the verification will have to be done manually and most likely will take several months. To expedite consideration, youth should file electronically and attach a pdf statement or memo within the software. Paper filing is processed more slowly than electronic filing.
The IRS uses a five-part test to determine whether a parent can claim a child as a dependent. The latest information from the IRS on dependency can be found on pages 25-35 of IRS Publication 17. This will help you and the youth determine if they were previously incorrectly claimed – a common issue encountered by youth and young adults experiencing homelessness.