The $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes direct payments to most Americans.
President Trump signed the relief bill after Congress passed it with bipartisan support. So, who gets a stimulus check? How much? And when will it arrive?
We’ll answer those questions and more in this article…
Who Qualifies for a Stimulus Check?
A Social Security number is required to receive a payment, reports the Wall Street Journal.
According to pages 144 and 145 of the 880-page rescue plan, nonresident aliens, those who can be claimed on someone else’s tax return as a dependent, and estates or trusts are all excluded.
In addition, an earnings threshold based on adjusted gross income will mean no checks for some Americans.
How Much Money Will I Receive?
The coronavirus relief package provides direct cash payments of up to $1,200 for most adults — or $2,400 for married couples filing jointly — plus $500 per child under 17.
To get the full amount, your adjusted gross income on your 2019 tax return (or 2018, if you haven’t already filed for 2019) must not exceed the following:
- Individuals: $75,000
- Head of Household: $112,500
- Joint Return (Married Couples): $150,000
(Note: Find your adjusted gross income on line 8b of Form 1040)
If you make too much money to receive the full amount, you may still receive a smaller check. Reduced stimulus payments will go out to individuals who make up to $99,000 and married couples who make up to $198,000.
For those who are expecting a reduced payment, use this calculator from the Washington Post to determine what you’ll likely get.
Are Retirees and Social Security Recipients Eligible?
Most people who receive Social Security retirement and disability benefits will get a stimulus payment.
For those who haven’t filed taxes in 2019 or 2018 (many Social Security recipients don’t have to), the government will use data from the following forms to determine your amount:
- Form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefit Statement
- Form RRB-1099, Social Security Equivalent Benefit Statement
To be clear, if you fall into this category, you don’t have to file a federal tax return to get a check.
When Will I Receive My Stimulus Payment?
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said that he hopes Americans will begin to receive their checks in about three weeks, but other reports indicate that it could take longer.
If you gave direct deposit information to the IRS on your 2018 or 2019 taxes, the payment will be made electronically.
For those who don’t have direct deposit set up with the IRS or have changed banks, you could be waiting longer for your payment to be issued by mail. It will be sent to the address on file with the IRS.
For non-filers, the IRS posted the following message on its website and urged immediate action:
“The IRS encourages anyone with a tax filing obligation who hasn’t filed a tax return for 2018 or a previous year to act now. Pending legislation includes certain potential credits and rebates for those who have filed a return for 2018 and/or 2019. Those without 2018 tax filings on record could potentially affect mailings of stimulus checks.”
What If My Income Dropped Since My Last Tax Return?
If you don’t qualify for a stimulus payment based on your 2019 or 2018 tax return and your income has dropped since then, you won’t receive a check right away.
However, the Los Angeles Times reports that the IRS will make adjustments if you would have received a payment based on your 2020 adjusted gross income.
Those who would have received a fatter check based on this year’s income will also get a credit on their 2020 return.
Do I Have to Sign Up to Receive a Stimulus Payment?
There’s no need to sign up for anything. The government will determine your payment eligibility and amount by reviewing your tax returns or Social Security benefit statement.
You’ll be notified by mail no later than 15 days after the payment is distributed, according to page 149 of the relief package.
Do I Have to Pay Taxes on the Payment?
Will There Be an Additional Stimulus Payment?
This is a one-time payment, but the Trump administration has not ruled out additional stimulus packages in the future.
Where Can I Go for More Information?
There are some questions that can’t be answered at this time, but the IRS has set up a special website that you can check for updates. The IRS is asking people to avoid calling them about the stimulus payments.
While we can’t currently accept phone calls to our Consumer Action Center helpline, we can still answer your money questions! Visit clark.com/cac to submit your question and a Consumer Action Center volunteer will call you as soon as possible.