Dec 22, 2020 | Dallas Morning News
Aaron Jones lost his Dallas hotel analyst job as the coronavirus pandemic picked up speed. Jones was grateful when Congress passed a measure for $1,200 stimulus checks to taxpayers as part of the $2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill.
Then, his gratitude evaporated.
He was a U.S. citizen married to Vietnamese immigrant, Trinh Nguyen. The Dallas couple filed a joint tax return with his Social Security number and her individual taxpayer identification number, or ITIN, a government-established alternative for those without a Social Security number.
That disqualified both of them from getting the initial stimulus checks. Fast forward to this December: Congress has just reached agreement on a second stimulus measure. This time, Jones is covered, but his wife isn’t. Those with Social Security numbers will receive a $600 stimulus check, half the individual amount of the first round.
“It’s better than nothing but wildly insufficient in proportion to the actual problems,” Jones said.
“Widespread economic recovery will not occur until the summer. However, Congress continues to under-deliver with a piecemeal approach.”
Immigrants are stigmatized, said Jones, whose wife is a legal U.S. resident.
The exclusion in the CARES Act penalized couples that filed with both an SSN and an ITIN. That exclusion also included mixed status families with U.S.-born children who would have otherwise been eligible for $500 as a dependent child under the age of 17.
In the second relief measure of $900 billion, which awaits the signature of President Donald Trump, those with Social Security numbers will be eligible for the stimulus checks. But taxpayers using ITINs will still be excluded.
“It is outrageous what has happened to these families in being left out of the first CARES Act,” said Juan Carlos Cerda, a business outreach manager with the Texas chapter of the American Business Immigration Coalition.