The government recently started issuing stimulus checks that were announced as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2.2 trillion stimulus package designed to shore up the economy in light of the coronavirus outbreak and mandatory social distancing.
The Economic Impact Payments (stimulus Checks) will send up to $1,200 to individuals and up to $2,400 to married couples who file a joint tax return. There is also an additional $500 per child under the age of 17.
However, there are some eligibility rules based on income and other factors. And, while the stimulus check will be sent out automatically to most taxpayers, there are some people who will need to take action to contact the IRS before they will receive their stimulus check.
This primarily applies to people who have dependents and whose income is too low to file a tax return or their income non-taxable income such as VA disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Urgent: the IRS has set a deadline of April 22nd to updated your dependents in order to receive the additional $500 per dependent. See below for more infomration.
We will cover all of these details below.
2020 Stimulus Check Eligibility
Taxpayers must be eligible to receive the stimulus check. Eligibility is based on three main factors:
- Whether or not you have a Social Security Number
- Whether anyone can claim you as a dependent on their tax return, and
- Your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) from your most recent tax return (2018 or 2019).
Eligibility Factor 1: Do you have a Social Security Number? The stimulus check will only be sent out to U.S. citizens and resident aliens who have a Social Security Number. It will not be sent out to those who have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
Eligibility Factor 2: Can Anyone Claim you as a Dependent? You will not receive a stimulus check if anyone can claim you as a dependent on their tax return. This eliminates many children ages 17 and over who have their own job and pay taxes, but are claimed as a dependent on their parent’s tax return.
Eligibility Factor 3: Do You Meet Income Eligibility Requirements? The stimulus check will only be sent out to lower and middle-income taxpayers. Individuals whose AGI exceeds the cutoff limits will not receive a stimulus check.
Here are the income limits for the 2020 economic stimulus check:
- Individual taxpayers are eligible for the full amount of the stimulus payment if their AGI was less than $75,000 ($150,000 for married couples filing jointly). This will be based the AGI from the most recent tax return the IRS has on file – either 2018 or 2019.
- The Stimulus Check payment phases out starting at $75,000 through $99,000 for individuals ($150,000 through $198,000 for married couples).
- Individual taxpayers who had an AGI greater than $99,000 will not be eligible for the stimulus check ($198,000 for married couples).
- Taxpayers will receive an additional $500 for each qualifying child ages 16 and under.
- There is no stimulus check for children ages 17 and over if they are claimed as a dependent on their parent’s tax return.
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How Much is the Stimulus Check?
The stimulus check is $1,200 for qualifying individuals and $2,400 for qualified married couples.
There is a phase-out based on your AGI. If your AGI falls within the phase-out range, then you will receive a reduced stimulus check. The amount will be reduced by $5 for every $100 your income exceeds the lower limit ($75,000 for individuals, or $150,000 for married couples).
As an example, someone whose income exceeds the lower limit by $1,000 would have their stimulus check reduced by $50. If their income exceeds the lower range by $5,000, their stimulus check would be reduced by $250.
You will not receive a stimulus check if your AGI exceeds the upper range of the phase-out limits ($99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for married couples).
When Will I Get My Stimulus Check?
The IRS began sending out stimulus checks on Saturday, April, 12. They will be processing checks by direct deposit first, followed by mailing physical checks in the coming weeks.
The Treasury is starting by sending the stimulus checks to those at the lower-income levels first, and working their way up to those with higher income levels.
The government has previously sent out stimulus checks in 2001 and in 2008. It took several months for them to process the tens of millions of stimulus checks.
We don’t have a firm estimate of when everyone will receive their stimulus check, but we will update this article when we have more information. Additionally, the IRS is in the process of creating a portal where taxpayers can log in to check the status of their stimulus check or update their personal or banking information. You can check this page to see when it goes live.
Keep in mind, like the tax refund schedule, there will be some variation in when checks are sent.
How Will I Receive the Money from My Stimulus Check?
The IRS will automatically send stimulus checks to most individuals. However, some taxpayers will need to take action in order to receive their stimulus check. We cover this in the next section.
The IRS will send stimulus checks based on the information from your most recent tax return (either 2018 or 2019). If they have your direct deposit information, the IRS will automatically deposit the check in your bank account. If they do not have your banking information, they will mail you a check. Receiving a physical check will delay your payments because the IRS can only print and issue up to 5 million checks per week (they anticipate having to send out tens of millions of checks, so that could take months).
The IRS is in the process of creating a website where taxpayers can check the status of their check, update their banking information, or update their address if they have moved.
Do I Need to Do Anything to Get My Stimulus Check?
Most taxpayers will not need to take any action to receive their stimulus check. The IRS will simply send you the check based on the information they already have on file.
However, some individuals are not required to file a tax return. If you are in this situation, the IRS may still have you covered.
You Do Not Need to Take Action to Receive Your Stimulus Check If:
You do not need to take any action if the IRS already has your information on file. They will have your information if you filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019, or if you received any of the following sources of income:
- Social Security Retirement, Social Security Disability (SSDI), or Social Security Survivor Benefits
- Railroad Retirement and Survivor Benefits
- VA Disability Benefits (This is a late addition, announced by the IRS on April 17, 2020).
Note: You may need to info the IRS if you have dependents under the age of 17. The IRS will not automatically have this information. You can submit this information on the IRS Non-Tax Filers Payment Info Page.
You May Need to Take Action to Receive Your Stimulus Check If:
The IRS will not have your information on file if you have not recently filed a tax return. If any of the following apply, you will need to submit your information to the IRS:
- Your income was too low to file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 ($12,000 or lower for individuals, or $24,000 for married couples), or
- Your primary source of income was non-taxable income such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and you did not need to file a tax return.
- You do not file a tax return and you have dependents under the age of 17 that are eligible for the $500 payment per child. The Deadline to Add Dependents if April 22, 2020 (more info).
You can submit your information on the IRS Non-Tax Filers Payment Info Page.
Can I Change My Information with the IRS?
Yes, the IRS is working on a page that will allow taxpayers to check on the status of their stimulus check, update their banking information for direct deposit, or change their mailing address if they will be receiving a physical stimulus check by mail.
The IRS portal will also allow taxpayers to change their method of payment if they have not already been issued their check. It may be a good idea to provide your banking information if the IRS does not already have it. That will ensure you receive your stimulus check more quickly, as it may take months for the IRS to process all stimulus checks.
The IRS portal is expected to go live in mid-April. You can find more information or check for updates here.
Will the Stimulus Check be Taxed?
No, the IRS will not tax your stimulus check. It is considered to be a refundable credit for your 2020 tax return. You are just getting it a year in advance.
In an interesting twist, eligibility for the 2020 stimulus check is based on the AGI from your most recent tax return, either 2018 or 2019. However, the tax law states this is a refundable credit for your 2020 income.
How does this impact you? Glad you asked. If your 2020 income exceeds the AGI limits for the refundable credit, the IRS will not clawback your stimulus check. In other words, once you get the check, the money is yours to keep.
It gets better – if your income was too high to receive the stimulus check this year and your income drops below the threshold in 2020, then you should receive the refundable tax credit when you file your tax return next year. This doesn’t help you today, but it may come as a welcome bonus when you file your tax return next year.
Where Can I Find More Info on the Stimulus Check?
The IRS website has a wealth of information and is being updated on a regular basis. We will also fo our best to frequently update this page.
Also, note that the IRS is being inundated with phone calls and they have requested taxpayers not to call with questions about the stimulus checks. Just visit the IRS stimulus check page for updates.
You can also see the full CARES Act here.