by Ursula Curiosa
Greetings, Beloved Guildies! I have good news to share regarding two ways to aid people in getting some money: (1) updating one’s address with the Infernal Revenue Service, and (2) writing for the Breaking Point Project.
See my essay “Let’s Get Stimulated: Reflections on Scholl et al. v. Mnuchin et al.” Guild Notes Vol. 46, No. 1/2, Spring/Summer 2021, for information about the struggle to get the IRS to send out Economic Impact Payments to incarcerated folks (EIP1 & EIP2) from the CARES Act of 2020. According to the Scholl v. Mnuchin decision, the IRS and Treasury Department cannot withhold the EIPs from taxpayers just because of incarceration status. EIP3 from 2021 is also available for prisoners who otherwise qualify for it.
“Diesel therapy”—moving around prisoner-organizers between prisons—is a common form of retaliation at the barest sniff of insubordination, I’ve been told by several trustworthy people. No prisoner is going to miss out on the stimulus money owed to them if I can help it, which is a considerable factor in preparing this Note for distribution. It sparks joy to provide this tax information to all of the Guild, but especially for our Jailhouse Lawyer members’ use. To change one’s address, one could tell the IRS at an appointment; on the telephone at 800-829-1040 for English and Spanish, at 833-553-9895 for other languages, and at 800-829-4059 for TTY/TDD; or with IRS Form 8822, Change of Address.
For those who want to contact the IRS by mail without having Form 8822, here are two steps of instructions on how to change your address with the IRS. Step 1: Write a letter to the IRS that contains this information: (1) full name; (2) old address; (3) new address INCLUDING one’s corrections department-assigned identification number; (4) social security number, ITIN, or EIN; and (5) your signature and the date you signed the letter. Step 2: Mail the signed statement to the address to which you sent your most recent tax return or to Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, Austin, TX 73301-0003, which is the address the IRS has set up to segregate tax claims by prisoners from the general population’s tax returns for separate but supposedly equal treatment. It seems to me that the IRS moves in strange, slow, and mysterious ways, so it may require nearly-superhuman patience to get paid out. Time, precious time!
Speaking of time: There are many lockups in Amerikkka and the Breaking Point Project wants to pay writers to tell their tales of incarceration towards the goal of abolition through narrative. “The Breaking Point Project seeks to create social change through storytelling and art. By sharing the experiences of incarcerated disabled and/or chronically ill people, then bringing those stories to life through art, we hope to impress upon viewers the urgency of prison abolition and inhumanity of the current criminal-legal system” (from www.thebreakingpointproject.com/). I shared my story with the BPP and got paid an honorarium of $100. It’s called “No. 11: Brain Freeze in a Quiet Room,” about my 16.5 days detained against my will inside a filthy psychiatric “hospital.”
Powerful authorities frequently stuff willfully disobedient crazies (like me) and so many more people into restrictive hell-holes of various formations. The organizers at the BPP, Maya Goldman and Lucy Trieshmann, want to expand the project and give more honoraria to more writers. They agreed with me that publicizing about the project in Guild Notes is perfect: many people reading will have personal stories of incarceration to share anonymously with the world and/or can reach out to people who do. From the BPP website: “This project would not be possible without stories. If you are disabled, d/Deaf, neurodivergent, Mad, chronically ill, etc. and have experienced incarceration, reach out to share your experiences. Modest compensation is available.” Maya and Lucy would love to get a flood of mail. Write to them at Breaking Point Project, P.O. Box 22513, Brooklyn, NY 11202. Alternatively, email BPP at email@example.com.
The Guild is an organization of organizers and I am so happy to share this information so that it can be utilized and distributed further along: each one, teach one. Love, rage, and solidarity!