New Mexico is now taking applications for economic relief payments from those who do not file income tax returns, but those who need assistance applying in Roswell might have difficulty in finding help.
The applications for the relief payments must be made online at www.yes.state.nm.us. The website opened for applications Monday morning.
According to New Mexico State University’s Center for Community Analysis, 30% of households in Chaves County have no internet access. That number is even higher, around 50%, for individual U.S. Census tracts within the county, according to the NMSU center.
Helen Wakefield, chair of the city of Roswell’s Commission on Aging, said she was concerned not only for seniors who don’t have internet access or might not know how to use the website, but also because of the lack of information regarding the relief payments. She had not been aware of them until contacted by the Roswell Daily Record.
“I don’t imagine that this information is so widespread, especially in that we have a digital divide. In my sphere, it wasn’t well-advertised. How was that information pushed out to the community? I didn’t hear anybody ringing the bell saying ‘May 2, get ready,’” she said.
Wakefield said she would contact city councilors so they can get the information to their constituents and would also contact the Chaves County Joy Center to see how the information can be spread to the seniors it serves.
The city of Roswell will not have assistance available at the Roswell Adult Center, as it has no computers available for public use, public information officer Todd Wildermuth said. The Roswell Public Library does have public computers available, however, he said.
The relief payments are part of a measure approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in April’s special session. It also includes rebates for those who file state income tax returns.
Those who file a 2021 state income tax return will automatically receive rebates of up to $1,500 this summer. The first was approved during the regular session of the Legislature this year and provides $500 for married couples filing jointly with incomes under $150,000. Those filing single with incomes under $75,000 will get a $250 rebate. Those payments will be issued in July, according to information on the Taxation and Revenue Department’s website.
The second income tax rebate, which was approved in the special session, will be split in two equal payments in June and August. Joint filers will get $1,000 while single filers will get $500.
Those who do not file state income tax returns have to apply in order to receive a one-time economic relief payment.
The relief payments — $1,000 for married couples or single people with one or more dependents and $500 for single people without dependents — are available on a first-come-first-served basis. The Legislature appropriated $20 million for the relief payments.
The payments will be issued by July 31 by the New Mexico departments of Human Services and Taxation and Revenue.
The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. May 31. However, applications might be closed before that date if the available funds run out, according to a press release from the Human Services Department. The application will request information about the applicant’s marriage status, the number of people in the household, Social Security or Individual Tax Identification numbers, and dates of birth for those living in the household.
In a press release, Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase encouraged all New Mexicans to file a state tax return, even if they are exempt from doing so due to low income. Other tax benefits might be available to low-income households.
“Many low-income New Mexicans will receive a greater benefit if they file a tax return,” Scrase said.
A tax return can be submitted as late as May 31, 2023, to obtain a rebate, according to the press release. However, individuals will not be able to receive both a tax rebate and a relief payment.