Many Americans may never receive their $1400 stimulus checks, as the new $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill doesn’t prevent stimulus checks from being seized by debt collectors.
The first $1200 stimulus checks in the spring were also not protected, although some states did enact their own protections against garnishment for the first round.
The second payments of $600 were fully protected.
The $1400 checks will not be protected because the relief package was passed via budget reconciliation, rather than as a stand-alone bill. This allowed Senate Democrats to pass the bill with 51 votes, instead of 60.
Any private debt collector can seize the $1400 payment. According to Lauren Sauders, associate director of National Consumer Law Center, credit card and medical debt are the two most likely to be collected. In some cases, stimulus checks may also be seized for private student loan debt.
The payments cannot be seized by the IRS for back taxes or child support offsets.
Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden (D), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, says that he intends to file legislation that would ensure the $1400 stimulus payments as benefits subject to the federal exception from garnishment.
However, with checks going out in the coming days, it could be too late.