Resources available to help residents applying for federal economic stimulus payment
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced that the Boston Tax Help Coalition, a program within the Mayor's Office of Financial Empowerment, has launched a Stimulus Hotline to assist Boston residents eligible for the federal economic stimulus payment.
"We know that too many of our low-income residents are having difficulty accessing the federal economic stimulus payment they are entitled to," said Mayor Walsh. "If you are eligible under the federal guidelines and have not requested the payment, we encourage you to reach out for assistance. We are here to help make sure that every Boston resident who is eligible for this money receives it."
Residents with incomes under $75,000, including those with no income, may be eligible for the full $1,200 payment. However, residents who do not usually file a tax return must file an application with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in order to receive their payment. Boston Tax Help Coalition volunteers and staff have been trained to assist residents in filing this application with the IRS.
Boston residents should check online if they are eligible for the stimulus before calling. The hotline can be accessed by calling (781) 399-5330 or 311. The hotline is staffed on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 2 p.m. - 5 p.m., and calls received outside of those time frames will be returned. Staff are available to assist residents in Spanish, and residents in need of assistance in additional languages will be connected to the appropriate translation services.
Mayor Walsh created the Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) in 2014 to connect City residents with access to credit building programs, financial education, individualized financial coaching, and income support. Residents who seek to improve their financial situation can use these tools to achieve economic well-being and pursue financial prosperity. OFE is also a lead partner on Boston Builds Credit, the first municipal credit building program in the United States. OFE is an affiliate of the Mayor's Office of Workforce Development and the Boston Planning & Development Agency.
In 2019, the Boston Tax Help Coalition served nearly 13,000 taxpayers and enlisted hundreds of IRS-certified volunteers to return $24 million in refunds and credits directly to taxpayers. This effort lifted 12 percent of taxpayers over the poverty line. The Coalition's preparers assess taxpayers' eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a credit for low- and middle-income workers. In 2019, the average EITC amount was $2,400. Yet, according to the Internal Revenue Service, an estimated one in five EITC-eligible workers fail to claim this valuable credit each year.
In addition to tax preparation, the Coalition provides clients with other services to improve their financial health. For example, the Coalition connects taxpayers to Bank On Boston, an initiative launched by Mayor Walsh that helps residents identify banking services that are safe, affordable, and non-predatory. Trained Financial Guides also offer taxpayers the Financial Check-Up, a key component of Boston Builds Credit, the City's free credit building program. A Financial Check-Up is a one-on-one session in which a taxpayer can review his or her credit score and obtain personalized credit-building strategies. A new funder of this work is the SunTrust Foundation, which this year provided a $50,000 grant to support Boston's credit-building programs.