On March 27, President Donald Trump signed an emergency stimulus package into law in order to provide relief for individuals and companies during the coronavirus pandemic. One key provision of the stimulus is direct financial assistance to many Americans earning below a certain threshold, in the form of a payment of up to $1,200. If you make less than $75,000 per year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released information about how to get your coronavirus stimulus check — if you're eligible for it.
In a release originally published on March 30, the IRS stated that taxpayers who make less than $75,000 per year, or joint filers making less than $150,000 per year, would qualify for the "economic impact payment" laid out in the stimulus package. (The benefits decrease above that amount, and stop for people making $99,000 or more.) If you've already filed your 2019 tax returns, the IRS will use your reported income from 2019 to determine your eligibility. If not, then the IRS will use your 2018 tax return.
According to the IRS, the majority of taxpayers will not have to take any action in order to receive their stimulus check, because the checks will be sent automatically based on information in your tax returns. However, there are a few specific cases in which you may be required to provide the IRS with some additional information in order to obtain your check.
For most people, the IRS plans to distribute these stimulus checks automatically, via direct deposit. The IRS will use the direct deposit information that taxpayers submit to receive their tax refunds or pay their taxes. But what if the IRS doesn't have your direct deposit information? Don't worry, you'll still get your check — you'll just need to provide that information yourself. The Treasury plans to set up a web-based portal to collect taxpayers' bank information, per the IRS. However as of April 6, that portal doesn't exist yet, so some Americans could be waiting for a while to get their checks.
You might also have to take additional steps if you haven't filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019. According to the IRS, senior citizens, Social Security recipients, and railroad retirees who would not otherwise have been required to file tax returns will receive their stimulus checks based on the information reflected on the Form SSA-1099 or Form RRB-1099. If you didn't file your tax returns in the last two years but were supposed to, it's not too late — the IRS has extended the deadline for 2019 returns to July 15, 2020, and is encouraging taxpayers to file as soon as they are able to so they can get their stimulus check sooner. You should make sure to include your banking information when you file your return. The stimulus checks will be available for the rest of 2020, per the IRS, so you're not at risk of missing out if you haven't yet filed your returns.
So when can you expect to get your stimulus check? In its March 30 release, the IRS announced that it would start sending out checks within three weeks, but according to Janet Holtzblatt, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, this is a "really optimistic" projection. She notes that similar tax rebate payments in 2001 and 2008 took at least six weeks to get out, even with advance planning.
"This is a complicated process," Holtzblatt tells Elite Daily. "You have to develop the computer programs, you have to get them up and running, you have to test them, you have to prepare guidance." The IRS also needs to train its employees to answer common questions from taxpayers and inform taxpayers of the steps they need to take, Holtzblatt adds, "so this is a really quick turnaround."
According to The Washington Post, the IRS expects to issue checks starting as early as April 9, but taxpayers who haven't submitted their bank information in past tax returns may have to wait until the end of April or longer, depending on how much they earn per year. A problem with this scenario, Holtzblatt says, is that the IRS will now be even more overwhelmed than it already is during tax season. "This is all occurring while tax returns are still coming in," Holtzblatt points out. Even though the filing deadline was pushed back to July 15, many people who expect refunds are still filing their 2019 returns now.
Moreover, some people won't get the payments at all. Because the stimulus package relies on tax filings in order to determine eligibility for the payment, adult dependents of another taxpayer are not able to receive the payment. This loophole leaves out most high school seniors, full-time college students, and many disabled adults. Also overlooked? Anyone without a Social Security number, which includes many immigrants.
While some Americans may receive their stimulus payments in April, others may ultimately may have to wait weeks or even months, CNN reported, depending on their circumstances. The IRS is planning to make direct deposits first, and will only start sending out physical checks in May as a last resort. Again, most taxpayers won't have to take any action to receive their deposit, but if you haven't filed tax returns or given your bank information to the IRS, keep an eye out for the Treasury portal in the works.
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