The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides assistance to hospitals, nonprofits, individuals, and businesses. Among other provisions, the CARES Act provides individuals who earn less than $75,000 annually with a direct payment of $1,200, plus an additional $500 for every qualifying child age 16 or under. Married couples who file a joint return and earn less than $150,000 are eligible for up to $2,400 plus an additional $500 for every qualifying child age 16 or under.

On September 24, 2020, Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued an Order certifying a nationwide class of people incarcerated in state and federal prisons, and granting the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction requiring the U.S. Department of Treasury, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, and the United States of America to stop withholding CARES Act stimulus funds from plaintiffs or any class member on the sole basis of their incarcerated status.

The Judge’s preliminary injunction further ordered the defendants to reconsider their prior denial of advance refund payments to any person based on incarcerated status within 30 days, whether the denial was based on a 2018 or 2019 tax return, or on claims filed through the IRS’s online “Non-Filer” portal.

Earlier, on August 1, 2020, Lieff Cabraser and the Equal Justice Society filed a groundbreaking lawsuit against the United States Department of the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service on behalf of a nationwide class of people who were incarcerated at any time from March 27, 2020 to the present—that is, people serving a sentence in state or federal prison. The lawsuit seeks to have a court order the Defendants to issue CARES Act stimulus relief to all eligible incarcerated people, or up to $1,200 per eligible person plus $500 per qualifying child.

Lieff Cabraser have put together an easy-to-follow FAQ for you, explaining who is eligible and how to file a claim.

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