‘Those on direct deposits will get 2nd stimulus money first’

Finance expects to get $42M in advance transfer; goal is to start distributing money by Feb. 1

Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig said Friday those who want to get their second stimulus payment via direct deposit will receive the money first than those who want their payments in checks, and that payments may start by Feb. 1, their ideal target date.

Division of Revenue and Taxation director Tracy Norita also disclosed Friday that they are expecting to get 90% of their total estimate of who will receive the second stimulus or about $42 million in advance transfer from the U.S. Internal Revenue Services. Finance’s initial total estimate is $47 million.

Speaking at a radio news briefing Friday, Atalig said their goal is to get the direct deposits out first.

Atalig said the paper checks process is a manual one and that it takes time to sort the checks, affix the stamps, and get them to the post office.

“And then the travel time of the mail, the mail process, and it could take about a week or two when they receive their actual mail,” he said.

Atalig said the goal is not only to get the money to taxpayers as soon as possible via direct deposit, but they’re also trying to minimize lines at banks. He noted that the community is aware that during the first economic impact payment, or first stimulus, the lines at the Bank of Guam in Garapan was like a mile long.

Atalig encourages everyone once they open their portal by the end of next week to register for direct deposit of their stimulus.

“We will be doing a press release to inform the community that the portal will be open,” he said.

Norita said at the same radio news briefing that they’re calling the additional 2020 recovery rebate, or the second stimulus, as the economic impact payment 2, or EIP 2.

Norita said they just received a draft implementation plan from the IRS a few hours ago from that day, Friday, so their team is reviewing that.

“In this plan, it details the implementation for the $600 payment for each qualifying person and child,” she said.

Norita said the important highlights of the plan include the eligibility, which is similar to the first stimulus. She pointed out that this time around eligibility is based on the 2019 income tax return.

“So unlike the first stimulus where we went with your most current return, whether it was the 2018 or 2019, this time, it must be based on your 2019 return,” she said.

Norita encourages all those who have yet to file their 2019 tax to file that right away if they want to get the second stimulus payment.

“We are reviewing the implementation plan. And we’re looking to have the Treasury’s approval and execution by at least Jan. 20,” she said.

The director said there is a time difference between the CNMI and Washington, D.C. and there are a couple of federal holidays being observed this week.

“And so we’re trying our best to have our plan approved and sentd to them by the end of day today, so that hopefully gives them enough time to execute and approve the plan as soon as possible,” Norita said.

For the second stimulus, there are no offsets from the first stimulus.

“If you got an overpayment on your first stimulus payment, that will not be offset on your second stimulus. You will get the full $600,” Norita said.

She said their portal for the second stimulus in their website is currently being developed. She encourages everyone that would like to receive their payment through direct deposit, to use that portal.

“If you want to submit your bank information for us to give you a direct deposit payment, if you have not already submitted one or submitted your bank information on your 2019 return, we would either go with the bank information on the return that you provided on your 2019 [filing] or what information you provide through the portal,” she said.

Norita acknowledged that there has been a delay in the launch of the portal due to some technical issues that had to do with their hardware. “But now the replacement parts have been received. And our IT team is on it. And we’re hoping to test and have the portal up and running by the end of next week,” she said.

Back to the implementation plan, Norita said they are hoping that once it’s approved, funds will be transferred to Finance in two to three days from the date of approval.

“And so ideally we’re hoping that this happens in the next two to three weeks,” she said.

Upon approval of the plan, IRS will be transferring 90% of their estimate, or $42 million in advance transfer. “That will allow us to issue payments as soon as possible,” she said.

Norita also reminded that all payments have ceased for the first stimulus, which had a deadline of Dec. 31, 2020.

She said for some reason a taxpayer has lost or damaged his or her check and needs to have it reissued, they are no longer reissuing the first stimulus payment. “You have to claim your EIP 1 or your first stimulus on your 2020 [income tax] return,” she pointed out.

Norita reminded the public that they are anticipating issuing at least over 30,000 payments to taxpayers for the second stimulus, which is the same number that they had from the first stimulus.

“And so I just asked for patience,” she said, adding that there are some that have to be manually processed. “And just keep in mind that we do have staff at our Treasury Office that will be working very hard to print these checks, put them in envelopes, and get them out to the mail so that you can receive them as soon as possible.”

Norita said the manual process takes time so it’s the reason why they encourage everyone to get into the portal and submit their bank information, so they will be getting a direct deposit payment.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com
Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.