How to Receive CARES Stimulus Payments While Incarcerated


Most people incarcerated in Mississippi are eligible to receive CARES Act stimulus payments (usually up to $1,200 per person). The deadline to file a claim for people in prison is Oct. 30, 2020 (postmark deadline). Visit for more info.


Official, up-to-date info is at  This is the website for the suit that convinced a court to order the IRS to stop denying payments to people on the basis of incarceration alone and to extend the deadline for people in prison to file a claim for payment.




  • Deadline: October 30, 2020 (postmarked).
  • It costs nothing to file a claim and you don’t need income to qualify. You don’t need a bank account, income, or to be out of prison when the check comes to qualify.
  • You need minimal information to file a claim (i.e., your name, prison mailing address, DOB, SSN). If you don’t have a bank account for direct deposit, the IRS will mail the check.
  • You are eligible to file a claim if you satisfy all of the following four requirements:
  • You are a U.S. Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident.
    • You are not married to someone who lacks a social security number, or have a child who lacks one, UNLESS you or your spouse served in the Armed Forces in 2019.
    • You filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019 or you were exempt from doing so because your income in 2019 was below $12,200 a year or, if married and filing jointly, below $24,400.
    • You were not claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax return.


How to file a claim if you’re eligible


These documents provide all necessary info to determine if you’re eligible and to file a claim if you are; (also visit the firm site or for more info):


Background information


Colin Scholl and Lisa Strawn are incarcerated and are represented by the Equal Justice Society and the firm of Lieff Cabraser. They filed suit on behalf of a nationwide class of all people in prison against the IRS (and others) in August 2020 seeking reversal of an IRS practice of refusing CARES Act (COVID-19 relief fund) stimulus payments (usually $1,200 per person) to people because they were incarcerated. In September 2020, a federal court ordered the IRS to stop. On October 7, 2020, the Court ordered the IRS to notify some prison administrators about the change, and the Court extended the deadline for people in prison who must submit a claim in the mail to Oct. 30, 2020.  See Scholl v. Mnuchin, No. 4:20-cv-5309- PJH (N.D. Cal.).


As it stands, people in prison who filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return or have already submitted a “Non-Filer” claim for stimulus relief to the IRS, will automatically receive a payment by Oct. 24, 2020.  However, people who do not fall into this category and who earned less than $12,200 in 2019 (or $24,400 if married and filing jointly) must file a “Non-Filer” claim with the IRS as soon as possible.  If they have access to the Internet, they may file such a claim before Nov. 21, 2020.  However, if they do not have access to the Internet—like most people in prison—they must file a post-marked claim in the mail by Oct. 30, 2020.  Although the government has filed a notice of appeal of the Sept. 24 order, it has stated that it has not yet decided whether to pursue the appeal.