updated 1:02 PM CEST, Jun 4, 2020

IRS: CARES Act payments sent to more than half a million non-resident Americans

The U.S. Treasury has sent CARES Act Economic Stimulus Payments to more than half a million American expats, as of last Friday (May 8), the IRS has reported.

In total, these 595,548 CARES Act payments have totalled almost US$1bn ($977.83m), the IRS said in a statement, which averages out at an average of US$1,641 per payment. 

As reported, the so-called Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act payments are one-off "stimulus payments" worth up to US$1,200 that are being provided to all American citizens and Green Card holders who qualify, based on their annual income as detailed on their most recently-filed U.S. tax returns, as a result of a US$2trn stimulus package that was signed into law by President Trump in March. 

The CARES Act package was conceived to help the American economy recover from the devastating effects of the global coronavirus pandemic.

According to 2019 U.S. State Department data, an estimated 9 million U.S. citizens live outside the U.S., although other sources say the number is probably closer to 7 million. 

State-by-state EIP data

The data for Economic Impact Payments sent by the U.S. Treasury to "foreign addresses" is contained at the end of a list of state-by-state payment data, which shows that in total, some 130 million individuals had been sent payments "worth more than US$200bn in the program's first four weeks". 

The IRS's data shows that the U.S. state with the largest number of EIP recipients thus far is California, where almost 15.57 million have received payments totalling just under US$22.5bn, followed by Texas, with nearly 10.73 million recipients totalling almost US$18.8bn, and New York, with 7.74 million payment recipients and a payment total of around US$12.5bn.

Those American expats who have received their impact payments directly into U.S. bank accounts that they happen to have, and which the IRS is aware of, rather than by check or pre-paid debit card will nevertheless still be counted in the "Foreign Address" category of the IRS data if their non-U.S. address is the one they gave on their most recent tax return, an IRS spokesperson said. 

In total the IRS said it expects to send out more than 150 million payments, and that they will be sent not only to taxpayers but also to "millions of people who do not typically file a tax return", typically because they don't make enough money to be expected to.  

Such individuals, the IRS said, should visit the Non-Filer tool at IRS.gov.   

The stimulus payments are, the IRS said, "automatic for people who filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019, receive Social Security retirement, survivor or disability benefits (SSDI), Railroad Retirement benefits, as well as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Veterans Affairs beneficiaries who didn't file a tax return in the last two years".

For those who don't receive federal benefits and didn't have a filing obligation in 2018 or 2019, the IRS said, it "continues to encourage them to visit the Non-Filer tool at IRS.gov so they can quickly register" for the payments. 

The payments will be made throughout the rest of 2020. 

In the IRS statement, IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said his department is continuing to "work hard" to deliver the Economic Impact Payments "to Americans who need them".