comscore Kokua Line: IRS finally opens phone line to answer concerns about stimulus pay | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hawaii News | Kokua Line

Kokua Line: IRS finally opens phone line to answer concerns about stimulus pay

Question: My wife and I meet the income and eligibility requirements, yet we did not receive the full amount for the stimulus. I read the IRS website and can find no explanation for the reduction that would apply to us. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer: The Internal Revenue Service has finally activated a toll-free phone line for questions about Economic Impact Payments, popularly known as stimulus funds. The number is 1-800-919-9835. Expect a long wait to speak to a representative, although information on the recorded greeting may be helpful. Answers continue to be added to as well.

You should receive a letter in the mail — Notice 1444, Your Economic Impact Payment — within a few weeks of receiving the payment. Keep the notice with your tax records and refer to it to claim credits on your 2020 tax return if it turns out that you were eligible for a higher stimulus payment than you received.

The IRS said as recently as May 14 that it “is not able to correct or issue additional payments at this time” and will provide more information later.

As the IRS website explains at, EIP amounts vary based on income, filing status and number of qualifying children.

The maximum stimulus amount is $2,400 for an eligible married couple filing jointly with adjusted gross income up to $150,000 and no qualifying children. Qualifying children add $500 each to the amount. The child must have been younger than 17 at the end of 2019 to qualify.

Q: Have they sent out all the stimulus money? I never got a check.

A: No. Millions of paper checks or prepaid debit cards are being mailed out this month and into next month, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

Q: Can I request a debit card rather than a check? I saw on TV that it’s faster.

A: No. Debit cards are being issued only from IRS processing centers in Austin, Texas, and Andover, Mass. Hawaii payments generally are processed out of Fresno, Calif., according to the IRS.

Q: I saw that you printed instructions for returning a stimulus payment for a deceased parent. But what if the person was your spouse, and you filed jointly? Also, this was a check, not a direct deposit.

A: In that case, the surviving spouse would deposit or cash the check, keep the portion he or she is entitled to and return the remainder, according to the IRS. For example, if you received the standard amount for a couple filing jointly without qualifying dependents, the check would have been for $2,400, in which case you would keep $1,200 and return $1,200.

Q: When is the DMV going to reopen? This is beyond ridiculous. If all these private businesses are opening, why aren’t the government offices? Is the HGEA behind this?

A: An announcement is expected today about when Honolulu County’s driver licensing centers and satellite city halls will reopen to in-person visits, which are likely to be by appointment only.

As for the influence of Hawaii’s largest public-sector labor union, “HGEA does not oppose the reopening of government offices if health officials are giving the green light. However, we do expect and insist that departments have health and safety action plans to keep employees and the public safe from the coronavirus,” said executive director Randy Perreira.

On its website,, the Hawaii Government Employees Association says there is no uniformity as government offices throughout the state reopen to the public or prepare to do so. “We have issues with Kauai County and the City & County of Honolulu that we are investigating and will take action on. The UH and the Judiciary are the current brights spots and are adopting methodical and safe plans,” the website said as of Wednesday.

Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

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