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When you get your stimulus check depends on feds and IRS approval

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Treasurer says next discussion with IRS scheduled for next week

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — ASG COVID-19 Task Force chairman Iulogologo Joseph Pereira says that of the more than $67 million American Samoa is getting from the US Treasury Department, over $32 million is for the stimulus checks, which ASG will distribute to local qualified tax payers and eligible children.

Speaking at Sunday’s task force briefing, which was later aired on KVZK-TV, Iulogologo gave a summary of how the approximately $85.8 million that American Samoa has received or funds announced for COVID-19, will be used.

The largest funding totaling $67.8 million is from the US Treasury with $32.7 million for stimulus checks, and ASG is awaiting approval from the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for its disbursement plan.

The other $35.17 million has already been received and Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga announced this funding more than a week ago from US Treasury under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

It will be used to cover costs that are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic. They will also be used to cover costs not accounted for in the federal budget most recently approved as of Mar. 27, 2020 and incurred during the period that begins Mar. 1, 2020 and ends on Dec. 30, 2020.

Regarding the stimulus funds, ASG Treasurer Uelinitone Tonumaipe’a informed the task force meeting that the ASG plan is pending IRS approval, with the next discussion with IRS scheduled for next week.

He explained that once the plan is approved, about $29.4 million would be advanced to ASG to pay the stimulus checks. He points out that the ASG Tax Office staff will be conducting public awareness on KVZK-TV this week to explain eligibility requirements for the $1,200 payments for eligible tax payers and $500 for qualified children — in other words, who will get a stimulus check.

For other funds for ASG, Iulogologo told the task force meeting that about $1.38 million has already been announced for Port Administration; $1.56 million for the American Samoa Community College; $1.94 million — some of which have been received — for the Health Department; $650,000 for the Territorial Administration on Aging; $2.23 million for the Criminal Justice Planning Agency and more than $6.19 million — some of which have already been received — for the Department of Human and Social Services.

There is also $4.07 million from the US Interior Department for the Governor’s Office.

Iulogologo said the governor would set out a plan on how the money received would be utilized to ensure that all money used is in accordance with federal guidelines.

He also said that the task force and the coronavirus working group planned to submit yesterday to the governor, its report and recommendations on the next step for the coronavirus emergency declaration, which lapses on May 1st.

He said that perhaps by this Friday, which is May 1st, the governor would make a decision on the next declaration — on what will be eased or continued as the next local step will be based on the COVID-19 curve in the US.

(As of yesterday, US numbers top 1 million cases and deaths are around 57,000, with an average of 2,000 deaths per day this month — April. The estimate of the US death toll from the virus has risen from the April 22 estimate of 67,600 to August 4th reaching around 74,000, according to the University of Washington's predictive model often cited by White House officials. [Source: Reuters])