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Coronavirus (COVID-19): US Coronavirus Stimulus Checks: Are you Eligible and How Much Will you Get?
Most taxpayers will get a check from the $2tn economic package, the largest in US history, as reported by The Guardian.
The US has agreed on a $2tn stimulus package, the largest economic stimulus in US history, in response to the economic impacts of Covid-19. While corporations will be the biggest recipients of the bailout, some of that money will be paid directly to Americans hit by the pandemic.
Most taxpayers will get a check in the mail, while those directly affected by the economic effects of Covid-19 are slated to receive robust government support.
Here’s what we know so far about how the new stimulus package will directly affect Americans in the coming weeks:
Who’s eligible for a check from the government?
Congress will spend about $250bn for checks up to $1,200 per person that will go directly to taxpayers.
To be eligible for the full amount, a person’s most recently filed tax return must show that they made $75,000 or under. For couples, who can receive a maximum of $2,400, the cutoff is $150,000.
If a person makes more than $75,000, the amount given goes down incrementally by $5 for every $100 increase in salary. So a person who makes $85,000 would get $700 while a person who makes $95,000 would get $200.
If a person makes above $99,000, or a couple makes above $198,000, no check will be given.
There are some requirements and exceptions. Those getting a check must be living and working in the US and have a valid social security number. If a person is listed as a dependent on their parents’ tax return – the case for many college students – they are excluded.
The Tax Foundation, a DC-based thinktank, estimates that 93.6% of Americans will be eligible for a check coming from the stimulus package.
What about parents?
Taxpayers will be given $500 per child 16 or under listed as a dependent on their latest tax return.
When will I get this money?
That is still unclear. Experts say that Americans will probably not get the money until May, given how long it takes the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to send out checks. The treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, said those whose bank account information is already with the IRS from previous tax returns can expect a payment “within three weeks”.
For those who still need to give the IRS their bank account information, a web-based portal will be opening soon to allow people to provide the IRS with their information. The IRS says this is to make sure people get their checks immediately, instead of sending them through the mail.
This is not the first time the government has sent checks to Americans. The federal government gave up to $300 in 2001 and $600 in 2008 to taxpayers who met a certain income bracket to similarly stimulate the economy.
What if a person did not file their 2018 or 2019 return?
The IRS recommends people file their 2018 or 2019 tax return as soon as possible to get the payment. A check will be sent to any qualified person so long as they file their return within 2020.
What if a person does not file their taxes?
A person may still be eligible even if they do not file the taxes. The IRS says people who typically do not file taxes – low-income taxpayers and some veterans – will need to file a “simple tax return” in order to get the payment. Social security beneficiaries will not need to fill out the tax return, even if they do not file their taxes, to get the payment.
Does the package help unemployed workers?
Yes, specifically the bill will increase unemployment insurance by $600 for 13 weeks – about four months – for every person, added to the existing unemployment compensation a person gets from their state’s program.
The length and amount of compensation varies from state to state. A majority of states providing a maximum of 26 weeks of compensation, while average weekly compensation ranges from 20% of a person’s wage to just over 50%.
What about freelance and gig workers?
While unemployment insurance typically does not cover people who are self-employed – freelancers, contractors and gig workers – the bill comes with a “pandemic unemployment assistance” measure that will extend insurance to those workers.
Have there been any changes to paid leave?
Not in this bill. Earlier last week, Donald Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, a bill worth about $100bn meant to expand paid sick leave and emergency paid leave, but it came with major loopholes. Companies with over 500 employees were not mentioned in the bill, while companies with under 50 employees can apply for exemptions.
The bill mandates 10 days of fully paid sick leave for employees of companies with 500 employees or less. Parents of those companies affected by their children’s school closing and those leaving for medical reasons can get 12 weeks of pay at 67% of their salary.
Will there be anything to offset healthcare costs related to Covid-19?
Again, not in this bill. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act included a measure that mandated all Covid-19 testing is free, but treatment for any symptoms (there is currently no cure for the illness) still comes at a cost.
A few states have reopened enrollment for their health insurance programs to allow those concerned about costs to enroll, and three major health insurance companies said they will be waiving any high costs for treatment, but there are still stories of people getting bills for as much as $34,000 to cover treatment of the virus’s symptoms.
President Donald Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, into law on March 27.
The $2 trillion stimulus package, the largest emergency relief bill in American history, will direct one-time payments, or “recovery rebates,” of up to $1,200 to many Americans.
You do not have to sign up to receive a stimulus check. The process is automatic for most Americans who qualify.
Here’s how to get a stimulus check:
1. Have a Social Security number
To get a stimulus check, you need to have a Social Security number. Nonresident aliens, people without a Social Security number, and adult dependents are not eligible.
2. File a tax return for 2018 or 2019
The size of your stimulus check is based on the adjusted gross income listed on the latest tax return you filed, either this year’s tax return or 2018’s.
Americans whose adjusted gross income was less than $75,000 will receive the maximum amount: $1,200. Reduced payments are sent to single filers who earned between $75,000 and $99,000, or married filers who earned between $150,000 and $198,000. There’s also a $500 payment per child under age 17 for parents in the payment.
Business Insider’s Andy Kiersz created the following chart showing how much taxpayers will receive from the stimulus package based on filing status and income.
The IRS will be sending automatic payments of $1,200 each to Social Security recipients and railroad retirees using the payment method for their regular benefits, whether direct deposit or a home address.
The agency previously said that some seniors and low-income Americans who don’t normally file tax returns would need to submit a simple tax return to provide filing status, number of dependents, and bank information to receive payments. This is no longer the case for those who receive tax forms SSA-1099 and RRB-1099.
“Social Security recipients who are not typically required to file a tax return do not need to take an action, and will receive their payment directly to their bank account,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in an April 1 news release.
3. Use the IRS’ free online tool to speed up payment
If you don’t have a tax-filing obligation, the IRS urges you to use its new tool for non-filers so you can provide payment information and receive your money quickly.
The tool, which can be found here, asks for direct-deposit details (if available), Social Security number, mailing address, date of birth, and number of qualifying children in order to create and submit a simple tax return (Form 1040). It accommodates people with low or no income, Veterans Affairs beneficiaries, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients.
If you don’t enter direct-deposit information, the IRS will mail you a paper check. The IRS also said it’s working on a simpler solution to pay people who receive benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs or SSI, in case you don’t need your payment immediately and would prefer to wait.
Last week, TurboTax launched a free portal of its own for those who are not required to file a full tax return this year and want to submit direct-deposit details to the IRS. It has the same requirements as the IRS tool.
4. Provide updated bank information to the IRS
If you didn’t provide bank information on your last tax return — maybe because you didn’t receive a refund — you’ll have the opportunity to do so online soon.
The IRS said in a news release on Friday that a new tracker tool will be available on April 17 so people can see the status of their stimulus payment. It will also allow those who haven’t yet provided direct-deposit information via tax returns, Social Security benefits, or the IRS’ new non-filers tool to do so.
5. Wait for direct deposit or a paper check
Direct-deposit payments will start going out around April 15 and paper checks will come in the weeks afterward. Read here to find out when your stimulus payment is coming.
Once the IRS has delivered your payment, either by direct deposit or mail, you should receive a notice within 15 days at your last known address confirming how and when the money was sent to you.
CORONAVIRUS TAX CENTER: 2020 STIMULUS
Everything to help you get your stimulus check as soon as possible
More than 80% of taxpayers will receive a stimulus payment this year.
See if you qualify for a 2020 stimulus check and how much you can expect.
Try out Turbo Tax’s 2020 Stimulus Check Calculator