Governor Albert Bryan said Monday that his administration's stimulus checks payment plan had been approved by the U.S. Treasury, and that checks could be in the hands of Virgin Islanders as soon as late next week.
A firestorm had erupted last week on the status of federal stimulus checks being provided to Virgin Islanders through the local government. Mr. Bryan, in announcing that the funds could be delayed until June, called on Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett to help hasten the process in Washington. But during an interview with the Consortium, Ms. Plaskett — who stressed that she had done her part — said the administration was slow to submit adequate documentation to Treasury.
The response caused a riot online, with Mr. Bryan being lambasted and lampooned. The administration responded the same day (April 28), stating that it had submitted its recommendation of $84.7 million to the U.S. Treasury two days earlier (April 26).
Since then, Mr. Bryan said his administration had been waiting on a set of rules from Treasury, which he told the Consortium included who would pay Social Security recipients, who's accountable for the funds, what reports and controls would be in place, and who pays for veterans on disability.
On Monday, the governor said he had some good news to share: "Last week we had a lot of controversy around the stimulus checks, and our team worked very hard with Treasury to figure out something and I'm happy to announce that as of this morning we actually have our plan for payment approved by Treasury. We're anticipating by sometime late next week we will be turning out those checks. We haven't gotten the money yet but this is welcome news because it's way ahead of the plan that we actually put together. So IRS has been working with our local IRB to making sure that we get those funds into the territory and get them out to you — hopefully as early as late next week," the governor said.
He added, "The bad news is we're still having some with the Social Security Administration and the IRS in terms of determining how do we pay those recipients who are on Social Security."
The governor advised Social Security beneficiaries to file a tax return for 2018 if they haven't done so yet, "so we could at least have a record of your name, any dependents that you may have that will entitle you to the extra child credit." Mr. Bryan said the administration would provide more information once a solid plan is put in place.
The checks are part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed by Congress late March that provides roughly $560 billion in stimulus payments of $1,200 to individuals and $500 to children under 17.
Who qualifies for the stimulus payments?
The payments go to almost any adult with a Social Security number, as long as they aren’t dependents of someone else. Those adults get the payments for the children in their household. Payments start phasing out for those with income above $75,000 in adjusted gross income for individuals, $112,500 for heads of household (often single parents) and $150,000 for married couples. The payments start shrinking above those levels.
For those with no children, the benefit disappears at $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for married couples.