The Internal Revenue Service headquarters in Washington is seen Jan. 8, 2019.

The Internal Revenue Service headquarters in Washington is seen Jan. 8, 2019. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

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WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs said stimulus checks will be sent automatically to veterans who receive VA benefits but don’t typically file tax returns. However, those veterans need to fill out an online form to get additional money for dependents.

The deadline for veterans to submit information to the Internal Revenue Service is May 5, the IRS announced Monday. Otherwise, they won’t receive the extra $500 per dependent that the government approved for most Americans.

Lawmakers learned last week that some veterans would be required to send information about dependents to the IRS. It applies to disabled or low-income veterans and surviving family members who receive monthly compensation from the VA but didn’t file tax returns for 2018 or 2019.

The IRS originally set a deadline of April 22 but extended it after receiving criticism about giving such little notice. Veterans are to go to the IRS website to submit the information.

“We don’t want anyone missing out on the full amount they’re qualified for,” the IRS said in a video message Monday morning.

Soon after Congress approved a $2 trillion stimulus package in March that included direct payments to Americans, lawmakers and veterans advocates warned that a significant number of disabled veterans might never receive them because they don’t typically file annual tax returns.

The VA and the Treasury Department worked together to find a method to send those veterans their checks automatically without their having to file additional paperwork. Lawmakers celebrated the effort but learned last week that those veterans still would have to send information about their dependents.

Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., wrote a letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie to ask him to find a method to send money for veterans and their dependents without their having to submit information online.

“It is disabled veterans with dependents who will miss out on funds that are owed to them, making it more difficult to support and care for their families,” Takano said. “I urge VA to do whatever it can to identify veterans with dependents and to ensure that Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service have the information they need to automatically provide full stimulus payments to everyone who is owed them.”

As of Monday, the IRS said the best way for these veterans to get the full amount of money they’re owed is to go online. If veterans miss the May 5 deadline, they’ll have to wait until 2021 to claim the extra $500 on a 2020 tax return.

To file for a check for dependents, go to: Twitter: @nikkiwentling

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Nikki Wentling has worked for Stars and Stripes since 2016. She reports from Congress, the White House, the Department of Veterans Affairs and throughout the country about issues affecting veterans, service members and their families. Wentling, a graduate of the University of Kansas, previously worked at the Lawrence Journal-World and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The National Coalition of Homeless Veterans awarded Stars and Stripes the Meritorious Service Award in 2020 for Wentling’s reporting on homeless veterans during the coronavirus pandemic. In 2018, she was named by the nonprofit HillVets as one of the 100 most influential people in regard to veterans policymaking.

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