BIR Says Tax Stimulus Checks Coming Soon

IRB Director Joel Lee testifies before the Senate Finance Committee about his department's budget Tuesday. (Photo by Barry Leerman for the V.I. Legislature)
IRB Director Joel Lee testifies before the Senate Finance Committee about his department’s budget Tuesday. (Photo by Barry Leerman for the V.I. Legislature)

Stimulus checks for every Virgin Islander who files taxes are on the way soon, Bureau of Internal Revenue Director Joel Lee said in a Tuesday news release.

To respond to the economic slowdown caused by measures to address the ongoing deadly virus pandemic, the federal government is paying individuals $1,200, and couples $2,400. People who filed to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service have begun getting them as a direct deposit to their bank account, if they provided one in their last income tax filing, or in the form of mailed checks, if not.

But because the U.S. Virgin Islands has a mirror tax code and Virgin Islanders pay income tax to the local Bureau of Internal Revenue rather than the IRS, the process is more convoluted and payments await federal payments to the local government.

Lee said the Bureau of Internal Revenue will use the 2018 tax returns as the basis for the payment of these checks.

According to Lee, as soon as discussions began about the possibility of payments to the residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Bureau made contact with the IRS to discuss the process. The Bureau, along with representatives from the other territories, have had weekly meetings with IRS staff, to determine what data, information and documentation are needed.

He said that on April 2, the bureau submitted its draft plan to the IRS. Once approved, the draft will be sent to the Treasury for final processing.

On Sunday, April 26, based on the data submitted by the bureau, the Treasury Department submitted its recommendation that the cost of the Economic Impact Payments to the territory’s eligible residents is $84.7 million dollars. Monday, the bureau accepted Treasury’s recommended estimated cost. Treasury will advance the funds to pay the stimulus checks. Lee said the Bureau of Internal Revenue stands ready to process the payments once the plan is approved. He also said he has reached out to Delegate Stacy Plaskett’s office to update her on the status of this process.

The release urges taxpayers who have not filed their 2018 returns with the Bureau to do so as soon as possible in order to receive the economic impact payments.