THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
A survey conducted by US Tax firm MyExpatTaxes has found that only 29% of American expats have received an Economic Impact Payment. The payments, part of a stimulus package to support US taxpayers during the Coronavirus pandemic, provide eligible US taxpayers with up to a $1200 payment per individual or a $2400 payment for married joint-filers, as well as an additional $500 per eligible dependent.
However, the research conducted by MyExpatTaxes highlights that the payments haven't been straightforward for American expats. The firm's survey, which took place in mid-May and saw responses from hundreds of expats, found that while 62% of respondents had filed their 2019 tax return, only 29% had received a payment. 57% of those who received their Economic Impact Payment said it took more than 2 weeks after their tax return was filed to receive the payment, with the majority stating timeframes of four weeks or longer.
The study also offers a detailed analysis of how different filing times have affected those overseas Americans who have or have not received a payment. 77% of of those filing their 2019 tax return in February had received their payment, compared to just 19% who had filed in the first two weeks of May. The findings paint a picture of extensive delays for overseas Americans in terms of receiving payments, an issue which is exacerbated by other difficulties associated with being an American living overseas.
The survey goes on to highlight some of those difficulties, with respondents highlighting a number of concerns about payment methods, including an inability to file checks through a foreign bank account. This particular problem could be addressed by the recent announcement of prepaid debit cards for payments, although it has yet to be established if priority for these debit cards will be given to Americans living overseas (the decision rests in the hands of the Bureau of the Fiscal Services - who have not yet responded to a question about this subject).
Other concerns raised including the IRS saying checks had been sent but not being received, recipients being unaware of what to do with a check without a US bank account, and checks being sent to the wrong address.
There have also been problems with the IRS' 'Get My Payment' tool. Respondents mentioned seeing errors including "payment status not available", receiving payments by check or direct deposit without being able to confirm their payment details on the tool, and also the tool not allowing users to input foreign addresses or correct bank details. Some of these problems had already been raised by Democrats Abroad in early April, suggesting the IRS should be aware of these problems, and that the original problems expats expected to face are being realized. We'll continue to report on any fixes or developments which emerge to help overseas Americans with their payments.
To see the full survey report from MyExpatTaxes, go to www.myexpattaxes.com/us-expat-stimulus-check-survey-results