Ernst: Domestic Violence Survivors Should Receive Direct Payments No Matter What

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault, is calling on the federal government to ensure that survivors of domestic violence who are estranged or living separately from their married abuser have access to the direct payments Congress approved in the Phase 3 relief package.

After hearing from Iowans, including members of the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Ernst is sending a letter asking the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to provide a method and resources to ensure survivors who are in a vulnerable position receive their direct cash payment, regardless of their living situation.

Ernst is one of the first female Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. She wrote, …Even in normal circumstances, leaving an abusive situation requires immense courage and has ongoing emotional and financial struggles. Including domestic violence resources when providing Americans details on how to collect their stimulus, including information on how survivors can get access, is vital to their livelihood and ability to build a new life.” 

Ernst continues, “The IRS must ensure that survivors are able to receive their stimulus check safely. During this crisis, every American deserves the promise of economic stability, and survivors are no different.”

In the most recent bipartisan relief package passed by Congress, Ernst supported additional funding for domestic violence shelters and domestic violence coalitions – such as the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence – and nearly $2 million to bolster the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

The letter to Commissioner Charles Rettig is as follows:

The Honorable Charles P. Rettig
Commissioner
Internal Revenue Service
1111 Constitution Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. 20224
Dear Commissioner Rettig:
On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into
law. This legislation provided for Americans who qualify to receive a stimulus check of $1,200 per person, $2,400
per couple, and an additional $500 for each child claimed as a dependent on a 2018 or 2019 tax return, if already
filed. Due to the shelter-in-place mandates currently in place throughout the nation, as well as increased anxiety and
economic uncertainty, domestic violence victims are particularly vulnerable. I write to you today to ask the Internal
Revenue Service to establish procedures that will ensure those who have chosen to separate from their abuser will be
able to safely access their stimulus check.
In the United States, more than 10 million women and men are physically abused by an intimate partner a
year.1 Domestic violence rates rise in times of crisis, and this crisis will not be an exception.2
In Seattle, Washington,
an early hot spot for the virus, the Seattle Police Department saw a 21% increase in reported domestic violence.3
Even in normal circumstances, leaving an abusive situation requires immense courage and has ongoing emotional
and financial struggles. Including domestic violence resources when providing Americans details on how to collect
their stimulus, including information on how survivors can get access, is vital to their livelihood and ability to build
a new life.
The IRS must ensure that survivors are able to receive their stimulus check safely. During this crisis, every American
deserves the promise of economic stability, and survivors are no different. Thank you for all of your work during this
trying time, and thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.
Sincerely,
_________________________
Joni K. Ernst
United States Senator

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