On March 25th, the Senate passed a $2 trillion economic rescue plan that will offer assistance to millions of American households affected by the Coronavirus. The House of Representatives is expected to follow suit on Friday to pass the bill, sending it to President Trump for his approval.
But who’s eligible to get a check, and for how much? Here are some questions and answers about what’s in the bill.
How large would the payments be?
It depends on how much you make. Most adults would get $1,200, although some would get less. For every child age 16 or under, the payment would be an additional $500.
How many payments would there be?
Just one. Future bills could order up additional payments, though.
Are the cash payments taxable?
How do I know if I will get the full amount?
It depends on your income. Single adults with Social Security numbers who are United States residents and have an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less would get the full amount. Married couples with no children earning $150,000 or less would receive a total of $2,400. And someone filing as head of household would get the full payment if they earn $112,500 or less. Above those income figures, the payment decreases until it stops altogether for single people earning $99,000 or married people earning $198,000.
In any given family and in most instances, everyone must have a valid Social Security number. There is an exception for members of the military. You can find your adjusted gross income on line 8b of the 2019 1040 federal tax return.
What year’s income should I be looking at?
2019. If you haven’t prepared a tax return yet, you can use your 2018 return. If you haven’t filed that yet, you can use a 2019 Social Security statement showing your income.
What if my recent income made me ineligible, but I anticipate being eligible because of a loss of income in 2020? Do I get a payment?
The bill does not appear to help people in that circumstance, but there are many other provisions in the legislation. You may be able to file for unemployment or for one of the new loans for small business owners or sole proprietors.
Would I have to apply to receive a payment?
No. You do not need to sign up or fill out a form to receive a payment if you’ve been working and paying taxes since 2018.
If you’ve gotten a tax refund in the last two years by direct deposit, that’s where the money will be sent. If not, the IRS can mail a check to your “last known address,” and it has 15 days to notify you of the method and amount of the payment. They’ll send a phone number and appropriate point of contact so you can tell them if you didn’t receive it.
If you’ve moved recently, it may be a good idea to notify the IRS as soon as possible.
When would they arrive?
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he expected most people to get their payments within three weeks.
If my payment doesn’t come soon, how can I be sure that it wasn’t misdirected?
According to the bill, you would get a paper notice in the mail no later than a few weeks after your payment has been disbursed. That notice would contain information about where the payment ended up and in what form it was made. If you couldn’t locate the payment at that point, it would be time to contact the I.R.S. using the information on the notice.
What if I haven’t filed tax returns recently, would that affect my ability to receive a payment?
It could. File a return immediately, at least for 2018, according to the I.R.S. website. “Those without 2018 tax filings on record could potentially affect mailings of stimulus checks,” the site says.
If you’re worried about money that you owe that you cannot pay, the I.R.S. recommends consulting a tax professional who can help you request an alternative payment plan or some other resolution.
Would most people who are receiving Social Security retirement and disability payments each month also get a stimulus payment?
Even if you didn’t file a tax return for 2018 or 2019 or pay taxes in those years, you will be eligible if you received a Form SSA-1099 for the year 2019. That’s a form that the Social Security Administration sends each year to people who receive Social Security benefits, including retirement and disability.
Would eligible unemployed people get these stimulus payments? Veterans?
Yes and yes.
Although some of the details still need to be worked out. The IRS is expected to set up a system so that disabled veterans don’t fall through the cracks.
If my income tax refunds are currently being garnished because of a student loan default, would this payment be garnished as well?
I’m a college student. Do I get a check?
If your parents claim you as a dependent on their taxes, you’re ineligible. But if you’ve been working and filing taxes independently in recent years, you may qualify.
I’m not an American citizen. Do I qualify?
Yes — as long as you’re living and working in the U.S. with a valid Social Security number. That includes green card holders, and it generally includes those on work visas, such as an H-1B and H-2A. But it generally excludes visitors and people who are in the U.S. illegally.
I owe back taxes. Will the IRS snatch my check?
The bill doesn’t exclude you from getting a payment if you owe past due taxes. That said, the IRS has yet to set up the new system
*We’ll update this article as we have more answers or if the plan changes as it moves through the legislative process.