St. Thomas 𑁋 Veterans receiving benefits in the U.S. Virgin Islands are eligible to receive the economic impact payment passed by the United States Congress, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). President Trump then signed The Family First Coronavirus Response Act into law in March to help families around the country stay afloat as Covid-19 spread from state to state, which forced the nation’s economy to retract in an unprecedented way.
The territory has reported over 50 confirmed cased of Covid-19 and 3 deaths related to the novel coronavirus. Governor Albert Bryan told the Consortium on Monday that the territory’s residents and the local economy would suffer if the federal government didn’t act quickly. Government House issued a statement late Monday — which caught senators off guard — detailing the administration is seeking $1.1 billion in federal aid. Including a direct infusion of cash, loan forgiveness, along with the suspension of policies that block the U.S. Virgin Islands from receiving the same benefits as its mainland counterparts.
The IRS announced that veterans and their beneficiaries who receive compensation and pension benefit payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will also receive a $1,200 stimulus payment. No further action is needed on their part according to VA officials. Last week, VA officials announced that they had reached a deal with Treasury officials to allow direct payments to veterans via their existing department benefits accounts. Federal officials did not outline when veterans would begin receiving those payments.
Automatic stimulus payments will arrive in the same manner that recipients receive their monthly Social Security payments or VA benefits. This means, if Social Security benefits are normally directly deposited into your bank account, then your stimulus payment will be delivered electronically. If you receive your benefits by paper check, you’ll also receive a stimulus check in the mail.
The IRS is in the process of developing procedures for the issuance of stimulus payments to Americans under the newly enacted CARES Act. These procedures are evolving, and the IRS has not yet worked out all of the details as members of Congress and federal agencies have been coordinating to streamline the process and rush payments to Americans in a bid to keep the U.S. economy afloat and offer some families some relief.
Governor Albert Bryan Jr. said in an April statement that residents in the U.S. Virgin Islands would begin seeing stimulus checks from the federal government near the end of April. The governor’s remarks come after Congress passed the landmark $2.2 trillion CARES Act to address the economic and social effects that Covid-19 has had on the U.S. economy. Some Virgin Islanders who regularly file off-island with services like TurboTax or H&R Block began receiving their stimulus payments via direct deposit one week ago.
About 22 million U.S. workers have filed unemployment claims between mid-March and April, according to the most recent federal figures. The new figures reflect workers that have filed claims in the 50 states as well as the U.S. territories. The Virgin Islands Department of Labor (DOL) has not reported updated unemployment figures since December. The effects of the ongoing global pandemic have caused state layoffs to increase. The last figures reported by DOL reflected 5.2 percent unemployment, with an estimated 2,219 residents out of work at the end of 2019.
The latest census data shows that job-based coverage accounted for 55 percent of Americans’ health insurance, with restaurant jobs and others in the service industry less likely to offer health benefits. “The U.S. Virgin Islands is uniquely dependent on tourism. The devastating impact of the pandemic across our entire tourism sector – cruise ship arrivals, airline passengers and traffic, resorts and hotels, restaurants, and all related services – has been an enduring disaster without apparent end,” Bryan wrote in a letter Congressional leadership. “Further, the cruise ship lockdown has now been extended to an additional 100 days.”
Byan’s administration said it has begun the necessary steps and is currently identifying eligible taxpayers and their most recent mailing addresses. “We’re in the process of arranging the specifics of the transfer from the U.S. treasury to our treasury locally. All of this is to make sure that you get that tax stimulus check as quickly as possible,” Bryan said.
By early May eligible residents who reside in the territory are expected to receive stimulus checks in the mail or via direct deposit — the Department of the Treasury made a one-time $1,200 stimulus payout meant to assist the American workforce reeling from the effects of Covid-19.
Veterans with dependents who did not receive their coronavirus stimulus payments must contact the Treasury Department by midday Wednesday (today) or miss out on $500 or more until next spring. The sudden deadline comes less than a week after Veterans Affairs leaders announced a deal to ensure that disabled veterans who typically do not file tax returns weren’t cut out of the stimulus program, which is distributing $1,200 per individual and $500 per dependent to offset unexpected expenses and income loss due to the ongoing pandemic.
With ongoing complications and members of Congress currently mulling a second wave of stimulus payments before year’s end, some eligible people may not see the first payment until September. The IRS estimates it could take up to 20 weeks to mail all of the paper checks, and the Washington Post reviewed an internal IRS memo saying the last round would be mailed in September.