The human toll in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic has been immeasurable, as has the economic impact. And while scientists and doctors are working hard to find treatments and develop a vaccine, the U.S. government has responded with an economic rescue plan designed to blunt the financial pain the COVID-19 pandemic has created for Americans.
As part of the plan, economic impact payments — or stimulus checks — will be dispersed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to tens of millions of Americans, beginning in mid- to late-April. In addition to these checks, the $2 trillion economic rescue plan includes expanded unemployment benefits, federally guaranteed loans to small businesses and $100 billion to hospitals.
Who is eligible for a stimulus check?
Adults who are not dependents of another taxpayer and have a Social Security number are eligible for a stimulus check. This includes eligible workers, people without income and people receiving veterans’, Social Security and disability benefits.
How much will the checks be?
Most U.S. adults with an adjusted gross income of up to $75,000 a year will receive a $1,200 COVID-19 stimulus check. Married couples making up to $150,000 and filing joint returns will get $2,400. Those with children age 16 and younger will get an additional $500 per qualifying child. The IRS is using income information based on a taxpayer’s 2019 return, if filed, or 2018 return if the 2019 return has not been filed yet.
Who doesn’t get a check?
People with adjusted gross incomes greater than $99,000 or married couples filing jointly making more than $198,000 won’t get a stimulus check.
In addition, anyone who is claimed as a dependent by someone else won’t receive a payment. For example, students aged 17 and older whose parents claim them as dependents are not eligible for a stimulus check (their parents won’t receive the $500 additional payment, either, because that applies to children 16 and younger).
Other people who won’t get a payment are those without a valid Social Security number and those with nonresident alien status.
What should I do to get my check?
People who filed a 2019 or 2018 tax return don’t need to do anything. Neither do Social Security, Railroad Retirement or Social Security Disability Insurance recipients.
People who aren’t required to file a tax return but are still eligible for the stimulus payments, such as low-income workers and certain veterans and individuals with disabilities, can visit the IRS website for non-filers to see what they need to do to get their checks.
How will the money arrive?
If you filed your taxes electronically in the last two years, you’ll get the payment via direct deposit since the IRS already has your banking information. If you filed your taxes by mail, you’ll get a check at the address on your 2019 or 2018 tax return. You can provide your banking information for direct deposit or update your physical address at the IRS website if needed.
People who haven’t filed a tax return in the last two years should visit the IRS website for instructions on how to get their payments.
Stimulus checks are being issued in waves, so don’t be concerned if someone you know receives one before you do. The IRS has also released an online tracking tool that lets you check the status of your stimulus check.
Beware of COVID-19 stimulus scams.
The Washington State Attorney General’s Office has warned of scams related to COVID-19 stimulus checks. The attorney general notes that the federal government will not ask to confirm your personal or banking details by email, phone or text message, or demand a “processing fee” to receive your stimulus check. And it advises people not to click on links in email or text messages about COVID-19 stimulus payments or provide personal information.
Look for a letter from the IRS.
Fifteen days after dispersing your payment, the IRS plans to mail a letter to your last known address. The letter will note how the payment was made and give instructions on how to report any failure to receive the payment. The IRS advises that if you receive a letter that you’re not sure is legitimate, you should visit the IRS website to protect against scams.
Planning for your stimulus check
We’ve created a tool for you to get the most out of your stimulus check or tax refund, whether for emergent needs or other uses. Make your plan in less than two minutes.
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