Hundreds of thousands of dollars in coronavirus relief payments have been sent to people in jail across the country, and now the IRS is asking state officials to help retrieve the money that the agency says was mistakenly sent.
The legislation passed by Congress more than two months ago doesn’t specifically exclude jail or prison inmates, and the IRS has yet to say exactly what legal authority it has to retrieve the money. On the IRS website, it points to the Social Security Act, which bars incarcerated people from receiving some types of old-age and survivor insurance benefit payments.
Advocates of inmates are crying foul and believe the IRS has no legal basis to retrieve the money.
“I think it’s really disingenuous of the IRS,” tax attorney Kelly Erb said in an interview. “It’s not a rule just because the IRS puts it on the website. In fact, the IRS actually says that stuff on its website isn’t legal authority.”
In efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus, prisons have instituted lockdown conditions, which in turn, increases expenses for inmates because they are given lower quality food and fewer meals. Family and friends typically provide supplemental help for those in jail to buy food from prison commissaries. Many of those family and friends are struggling financially due to the economic downturn.
Advocates add that taking back that relief money may also have a disproportionate impact on Black and Hispanic inmates, who are incarcerated at a higher rate than white Americans.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC
Coronavirus hospitalizations and confirmed cases have reached record highs in over a half-dozen states as a sign of the virus’ resurgence. After trending downward for six weeks, the current number of confirmed cases continues to spike each week and has reverted back to peak levels from two months ago. States including Arizona, California, Mississippi, Nevada and Texas have been hit especially hard as leaders have reopened their states for business. Some 34,700 new cases were reported nationwide Tuesday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
The surge is cases in the South and West has prompted the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to issue a travel advisory Wednesday that requires people arriving from states with high coronavirus rates to quarantine for 14 days.
In a time span of a little more than two months, an Amazon warehouse in Shakopee, Minnesota is reporting more than 80 COVID-19 cases. About one in 12 employees have contracted the virus.
A total of 187 coronavirus cases have been confirmed among Amazon workers throughout the state. The company said it does not believe infections are being spread at the workplace and says it is closely monitoring the safety of their facilities. At least 10 Amazon warehouse workers nationwide have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
The San Jose Police Department is offering a cash reward for anyone who can help them find a woman who appeared on video to cough on a 1-year-old child at a Yogurtland store after she accused the child’s mother of standing too close to her.
The department said in a press release that the woman, believed to be in her 60s, “was upset the female was not maintaining proper social distancing, so the suspect removed her face mask, got close to the baby’s face, and coughed 2-3 times.” She then left the store.
The mother, Mireya Mora, told reporters that the woman made a racist comment to her at the store. Mora is Hispanic and the suspect is white.
More than 7,000 Disney World employees have signed a petition urging executives and Florida officials to reevaluate their plan to reopen the theme park on July 11 as COVID-19 cases increase in the state. On Wednesday, Florida broke its daily record with more than 5,500 new confirmed COVID-19 cases.
The petition says that theme parks aren’t essential businesses and that it’s unfair for workers to risk their lives or lives of their loved ones by returning to work.
Indiana Pacer guard Malcolm Brogdon has tested positive for Covid-19. Brogdon, who is in quarantine, said he is “feeling well” and plans to play when the NBA season resumes.