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Mnuchin Willing To Expand Virus Relief To Students, Disabled

By Stephen Cooper · July 17, 2020, 6:31 PM EDT

The next round of pandemic stimulus checks could go to college students and disabled, dependent adults who were ineligible for relief under the CARES Act in March, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin indicated Friday.

Mnuchin, testifying before the House Small Business Committee, said that he was sympathetic to the idea of having the Internal Revenue Service expand the scope of economic impact payments approved under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act in March.

The CARES Act authorized the IRS to send out economic impact payments of $1,200 to individual taxpayers and $2,400 to couples filing joint tax returns, subject to income caps. Under the current law, parents are limited to claiming an additional $500 payment for dependent children under 17.

Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., asked whether Mnuchin was willing to make 17- and 18-year-olds, college students and disabled adults who are still dependents eligible for relief payments in the next pandemic legislative package and also make the relief retroactive to March.

Mnuchin tentatively accepted the idea, noting that the IRS was working on a way to implement it.

"From a policy standpoint, I understand that issue, and I'm sympathetic to it," Mnuchin told Craig.

"There are some technical issues that the IRS and [Treasury Department] have in administering that because of the way dependents were reported on tax returns, but we're trying to figure out if there's a way to do that," Mnuchin said.

Craig was gauging Mnuchin's support for the All Dependent Children Count Act, or H.R. 6420, a bill she introduced in March that would expand eligibility for an extra $500 that parents can receive under the CARES Act for dependent children.

The bill would revise Internal Revenue Code Section 6428(a)(2) to allow parents to claim the additional payments for qualifying dependents over 16 years old.

Congressional lawmakers are working to pass another virus relief bill for businesses and individual taxpayers this month as a follow-up to the CARES Act. The House passed its version of the legislation in May, which includes the Craig bill, but Senate lawmakers have not introduced their legislation.

--Additional reporting by Theresa Schliep. Editing by Joyce Laskowski.

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