Enjoined and Incarcerated: Complications with Incarcerated People Seeking Economic Relief under the CARES Act

27 Pages Posted: 5 May 2021

See all articles by Mitchell Caminer

Mitchell Caminer

The University of Chicago Law School

Date Written: May 1, 2021

Abstract

Congress passed the first round of checks as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) in late March 2020 to infuse more than $2 trillion into the national economy and address the overlapping medical and economic emergencies stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. But incarcerated individuals were initially excluded from receiving stimulus checks, despite being eligible to receive them. This delay in delivering immediate cash assistance through the CARES Act to incarcerated individuals exposes the inadequacy of the tax administrative doctrine in resolving emergency relief disputes and how exclusionary measures embedded in the tax system and other economic policies inhibit the rehabilitation prospects of incarcerated people. Millions of Americans made personal and financial sacrifices in 2020 to aid the public health efforts, including incarcerated individuals. In return, those who were denied economic relief on an arbitrary basis by the government should not have to wait until the following tax year to seek a legal remedy. In other words, the legal framework for challenging tax decisions is too unsympathetic toward many taxpayers that rely on policies embedded in the tax code for immediate economic relief. Further, by providing nearly universal economic stimulus, Congress recognized the plight of incarcerated individuals during a pandemic and moved away from the exclusionary stimulus measures enacted in prior economic crises. Providing economic stimulus to those in incarceration is sound economic stimulus policy so long as punitive measures for individuals in and exiting incarceration are embedded in tax and economic policy.

Keywords: CARES Act, COVID-19, Anti-Injunction Act, tax, incarceration, stimulus

Suggested Citation

Caminer, Mitchell, Enjoined and Incarcerated: Complications with Incarcerated People Seeking Economic Relief under the CARES Act (May 1, 2021). University of Chicago Legal Forum, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3839780 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3839780

Mitchell Caminer (Contact Author)

The University of Chicago Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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