UPDATE: ASG expects to hear this week from IRS on stimulus payment
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — ASG Treasury has prepared an information sheet dealing with — among other things — who qualifies to receive a stimulus check under provisions of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in hopes of countering the considerable amount of misunderstanding and confusion surrounding the issue — not only in the community, but in states as well.
The CARES Act “provides considerable benefits for the taxpayers of American Samoa, the [ASG] Department of Treasury intends to seek every benefit available and will ensure compliance with all CARES Act provisions,” said ASG Treasury in the information sheet released last Friday.
“We are actively engaged with our Internal Revenue Service/U.S. Department of Treasury counterparts to finalize American Samoa's (AS) implementation plan and hope to have it approved” by this week, Deputy Treasurer for Revenue, Keith Gebauer said last Friday morning responding to Samoa News inquires and also provided a copy of the information sheet.
“There is a considerable amount of work being performed by the Department of Treasury in preparation for CARES Act stimulus disbursement as part of American Samoa implementation plan and we appreciate everyone's patience and understanding as we go through this process,” he said.
Gebauer notes that the information and updates regarding the CARES Act stimulus funding “are happening very quickly and in real time and we will share as quickly as it becomes available to us.”
During the Apr. 26th coronavirus task force meeting, ASG Treasurer Uelinitone Tonumaipe’a said a conference call is set for May 7th with the IRS and once approval is given on ASG’s implement plan, the IRS will advance 90% or about $29.4 million of the total $32.7 million for the stimulus checks.
Tonumaipe’a emphasized that ASG cannot keep or hold any of this federal money, even if a tax payer owes ASG taxes, to off-set a person’s outstanding taxes.
ELIGIBILITY FOR STIMULUS
The ASG Treasury information sheet provides a summary of who qualifies for a stimulus check. For example, a single adult with a Social Security number and adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less. For married couples filing joint returns, the income limit to receive a stimulus check is $150,000.
However, single filers who make more than $99,000 and joint filers with income exceeding $198,000 are not eligible for stimulus payments, nor are those over 17 who are claimed as dependents by their parents (which includes many college-aged people).
ASG emphasized that it’s the IRS that determines eligibility through the latest tax return or a 2019 Social Security statement that shows income if you have not filed taxes for 2018 or 2019.
According to ASG Treasury, American Samoa eligible recipients are subject to the same income restrictions and dependent qualifications as in the US. American Samoa eligible recipients are also eligible for the same stimulus amounts as prescribed by the CARES Act.
Those who are eligible are US citizens, US nationals and legal residents who have filed their 2018 or 2019 taxes. “Any changes to eligibility for American Samoa will be made public immediately,” said Treasury.
As to the amount of the stimulus check, it’s up to $1,200 for a single filer and married couples will receive up to $2,400, “though the exact amount depends on your income,” said Treasury.
Adults will also receive an additional $500 for every qualifying child. Treasury notes that the stimulus payment will be reduced by $5 for each $100 you make above the thresholds listed above. “You do not need to apply to receive a payment,” it says.
The Tax Office is currently beginning the review and vetting of eligible taxpayers and dependents according to the CARES Act provisions. The Tax Office is using the 2018 filing data as the basis for eligibility, the Tax Office encourages local taxpayers to file their 2018 filing if they have not done so yet. Taxpayers are also encouraged to file their 2019 filing by the extended deadline of July 15, 2020.
In keeping with the governor’s emergency declaration, which last Friday was extended for another 30-days to June 1st, ASG Treasury said all stimulus checks will be mailed to recipients. Furthermore, it is ensuring all logistical needs are met and coordinated to disburse the estimated 15,000 checks.
There are some local residents, who are taxpayers, that have already received their stimulus checks, either via direct-deposit in the person’s bank account or through the mail. Samoa News learned from these recipients that they are recipients of social security retirement and that is the reason they have received it already.
For questions or inquiries on stimulus checks email (email@example.com) or call the Tax Office 633-4155.