June 30, 2020

Cortez Masto Urges IRS to Implement Tools to Help Domestic Violence Survivors Access Coronavirus Relief Payments

Finance Hearing 6.30

Washington, D.C. – During this week’s Senate Finance Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) questioned Charles Rettig, Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), about the steps the IRS is taking to ensure domestic violence survivors are receiving their Economic Impact Payments (EIPs). On June 19, the Senator led a letter with 35 Senate colleagues to Commissioner Rettig and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin urging them to take action to help survivors of domestic violence, many of whom face unique barriers that can keep them from being able to access the Economic Impact Payments to which they are legally entitled.

“I am hearing from survivors of domestic violence who have fled their abusers, often with their children, but whose abusers have walked away with their Economic Impact Payments,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “In other words, the survivors are not getting their EIPs…I sent you and Secretary Mnuchin a letter about this a couple of weeks ago, and I haven’t received a response. What is the IRS doing to get replacement checks out to victims of domestic violence who are in desperate need right now because they are not getting their EIPs? How do we get them those payments and take into consideration their safety and financial stability away from their abusers?”

In his response, Commissioner Rettig stated that he had received the Senator’s letter and that the letter has “great suggestions” to help domestic violence survivors, which is a priority for the IRS.

Senator Cortez Masto closed her questioning by stressing that the list of recommendations in the letter are commonsense tools that will be helpful to the IRS during the pandemic and in the future to ensure domestic violence survivors can access the funds they are entitled to. She also urged the IRS to reach out as they continue to implement her suggestions to help domestic violence survivors, saying “As you look through this – because I know the recommendations include a dedicated phone line, a process with an online pin, utilizing the existence of prepaid cards tied to government benefits – if you need resources to implement these suggestions I would hope that you would also let us know, so we can ensure you have [what] you need so you can implement these tools to get the money to our survivors.”

Video of the full exchange is available here.