1st batch of stimulus checks goes out today — expect long bank lines
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — With long lines and an extended wait time at banks expected with the release of the third federally funded Economic Impact Payments (EIP) — or stimulus checks — the Territorial Bank of American Samoa is extending hours of operations starting today, May 6th, through May 28th.
To “better accommodate the community negotiating” their stimulus checks, the government own financial institution said in a statement that the extended new hours of operation is from from 7:30a.m. to 3p.m Monday to Friday at both the Utulei and Tafuna branches, Monday through Friday.
Samoa News notes that the stimulus checks are being issued from the ASG account with TBAS, and is the reason for the extended businesses hours. TBAS took similar action at last year’s release of the $1,200 EIP.
ASG Treasury announced last week that the first batch of stimulus checks are being distributed today. Taxpayers with a mailing address on their tax return will have their checks released in the mail, while the rest will be distributed at the Gov. H. Rex Lee Auditorium.
And this is the first time that the government is doing direct-deposits of EIP into taxpayers’ bank accounts. ASG officials hope that offering this service — which many have requested — will reduce the number of people waiting in line at the bank.
Electronic deposit forms can be picked up from the Tax Office or from the TBAS website at mytbas.com
The Health Department in its latest health advisory says that COVID-19 vaccines will be available today at the Lee Auditorium for anyone picking up their stimulus check. Bring a photo ID and hospital number for registration to get the COVID vaccine.
Of note, the DOH COVID-19 Vaccine sites will all be closed on Friday, May 7, due to gear up for Mother’s Day and in honor of celebrating all Nurses for this week. For those due for a second dose this Friday, DOH said, please come in next week Monday May 10th at the usual vaccine sites.
The drive-through Vaccine clinic is scheduled for May 15th, and you can call in to sign up and pick a consent form for easier access.
Today’s EIP batch is for those who filed their taxes between Jan. 01, 2020 and Feb. 13th 2020. The second batch is scheduled for release May 13th and the third one on May 20th.
TBAS also had some suggestions for avoiding the lines. “We anticipate long lines and extended wait times during this period,” said TBAS in the statement early this week and encouraged those with online banking and the smart phone mobile application to process their stimulus checks for deposit up to $10,000.
Once the deposit is processed, customers can use their ATM/ Debit MasterCard to make purchases at local merchants and get cash from any of the bank’s 18 ATMs.
For non-TBAS customers, the bank encourages these individuals to open a deposit account and deposit their stimulus check with a small cash withdrawal for safety and security.
With the release of stimulus checks, traffic is expected to be busy in the town area, as well as the TBAS branch at the Tafuna Industrial Park. Stores and other places of business are hoping for a boost in sales with the release of the third EIP.
Samoa News has heard from taxpayers expecting stimulus checks that they will wait until tomorrow or early next week to visit the bank, in order to avoid long lines and extended waiting periods.
With this batch of stimulus checks and the governor lifting all COVID-19 restrictions under his new declaration, churches are looking to restart bingo games, which have been prohibited since March 2020 under previous declarations.
One church started advertising on the radio yesterday for its bingo games scheduled for tonight and Saturday. Other churches are expected to follow suit and set up theirs too.