$124 Million in Federal COVID-19 Relief May Go Unclaimed

Download this fact sheet (July 2020; 2 pages; pdf)

Some 124,000 eligible New Mexico adults and children risk missing out on the stimulus payments provided through the federal CARES Act. These payments – known as “Economic Impact Payments” (EIPs) – amount to roughly $124 million and are going unclaimed by New Mexicans who have not filed a 2018 or 2019 income tax return.[1] This money – if delivered and spent – would reduce hardship and give state and local economies a much-needed boost.  These stimulus checks can have a positive impact on the lives of individuals and families most impacted by the pandemic, providing money to help them pay bills, cover necessary expenses, and pay for the things they need most right now.

It’s not too late!

Advocacy organizations, community outreach groups, and state agencies can all help reach the thousands of New Mexicans who risk missing out on these stimulus payments. These individuals will need to file a tax return or complete an online IRS form by October 15 to receive the payments.

Why are these payments important to New Mexico?

Due to the pandemic:

  • 48% of New Mexicans are living in households where someone has lost employment income since March.[2]
  • 33% of New Mexicans are experiencing housing insecurity.[3]
  • 34% of New Mexico children face food insecurity.[4]

Every dollar of federal assistance spent in New Mexico creates $1.80[5] in economic activity, which supports jobs and state revenue.

Who might be missing their relief payments?

  • The New Mexicans most likely to be missing out on EIPs are those who may be:
    • earning low incomes
    • lacking secure housing
    • non-elderly
    • people of color
  • Three-quarters of those missing out on this relief – 105,000 New Mexicans – participate in the SNAP and/or Medicaid programs and stand to lose out on $101 million.
  • These dollars would help families make ends meet and bolster economies and communities across the state.

Missing rebates are costing New Mexico’s families and economy as much $124 million.

What state agencies can do:

  • GET THE WORD OUT Include information about EIPs on state websites, online portals, mobile apps, in offices, and in written and phone communications with clients, as well as set up phone helplines.
  • REACH OUT TO FAMILIES Encourage case workers to discuss the payments and provide information when talking about eligibility for programs such as TANF, SNAP, and Medicaid, and send notices and reminders to families that are already enrolled.
  • LEVERAGE COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS Provide third-party organizations, such as SNAP application assistors, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites, homelessness service providers, and other organizations with information about EIPs.
  • ENGAGE THE MEDIA Encourage local media to report about unclaimed EIP payments, post on social media platforms, and purchase advertising.

More resources for state agencies:

Important information:

How you can help get the word out to your community:

[1] “Aggressive State Outreach Can Help Reach the 12 Million Non-Filers Eligible for Stimulus Payments,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, June 2020
[2] Household Pulse Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, for week ending July 14
[3] Ibid
[4] “The Impact of Coronavirus on Food Insecurity,” Feeding America, June 2020
[5] Xiaoqing Zhou, “Multiplier Effects of Federal Disaster-Relief Spending: Evidence from U.S. States and Households,” Nov. 2017