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Despite IRS Objections, Many Oklahoma State Prisoners Will Get Stimulus Checks


As the 2021 tax season looms, Oklahomans are waiting for another round of COVID-19 relief payments. State prisoners are also waiting to get their stimulus checks, despite objections from the Internal Revenue Service.

The IRS withheld stimulus payments from prisoners around the country in 2020, and ordered some prisoners to return money already sent. The agency argued Congress didn’t intend for incarcerated people to be paid.

But in October, a federal judge disagreed and ordered the IRS to make accommodations for prisoners to receive their stimulus payments.

It’s unclear how many Oklahoma prisoners have gotten the first round of money, but now many are also eligible for the second stimulus approved by Congress in December.

An Oklahoma Department of Corrections spokesperson said the agency received instructions on how prisoners could file from the IRS last fall. State prisons posted the instructions in their libraries.

The IRS said prisoners could get paid if they filed tax returns in 2018 or 2019. If not, they were required to register with the IRS before the end of last year.

Incarcerated people who didn’t meet the deadline may still get their checks if they file a 2020 return for this tax season, or register as a non-filer.


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Quinton Chandler worked at StateImpact Oklahoma from January 2018 to August 2021, focusing on criminal justice reporting.
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