"No action needed" by most, says IRS, to get COVID-19 stimulus payments. But some, including Social Security recipients, will have tile a "simple" tax return to get the money. This has changed. See second update below in the Q&A section.
The coronavirus checks will soon be in the mail, or rather headed directly to your bank account. That's the official word from the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service.
The agencies announced on Monday, March 30, that the economic impact payments authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act will begin going to eligible taxpayers in the next three weeks.
UPDATE, April 2, 2020: The timetable has been accelerated per this afternoon's White House Coronavirus Task Force update.
“I’m pleased to report that within 2 weeks the first payments will be direct deposited into taxpayers accounts.”⁰⁰ U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin says at today’s White House press briefing pic.twitter.com/SLry72hMIE— QuickTake by Bloomberg (@QuickTake) April 2, 2020
Most of us don't need to do anything to get the money, which could be as much as $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for married couples who filing jointly, plus $500 for each dependent child age 16 or younger.
The payments, as previously announced, will be calculated by the IRS and distributed automatically, based on information from taxpayers' 2018 or 2019 tax returns. However, noted Treasury and the IRS, some senior citizens and others who do not usually file returns will need to submit a simple tax return to ensure they get the stimulus payment.
Below are the agencies' answers to some other COVID-19 stimulus payment questions, with in a couple of cases, some additional thoughts by me in italics after the IRS response.
Many of these queries were included in the ol' blog's earlier Q&A posted after the CARES Act was signed into law on March 27, but it's always good to get the official replies.
Who is eligible for the economic impact payment?
Tax filers with adjusted gross income (AGI) up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns will receive the full payment.
Filers with income greater than those amounts will get reduced payments. The check amounts will be reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000/$150,000 thresholds.
If you as a single taxpayer have an AGI of more than $99,000 or more than $198,000 as a joint filer and have no qualifying children, you won't get any coronavirus payment.
How will the IRS know where to send my payment?
The IRS will send the payments to taxpayers based on their already filed tax returns.
The agency first will look at 2019 tax returns that have been submitted so far this year to calculate payment amounts. If you haven't filed that return yet, the IRS will then look at 2018 tax return records and use that information to calculate payments for eligible filers.
If you asked the IRS to directly deposit any tax refund for either of those years, the agency will directly deposit your economic impact payment.
The IRS does not have my direct deposit information. What can I do?
Treasury plans to develop in the coming weeks a web-based portal for individuals to provide their banking information to the IRS online. This will enable the IRS to directly deposit the COVID-19 payments rather than send as paper checks via the U.S. Postal Service.
I know a lot of folks are leery of giving Uncle Sam personal information. However, direct deposit is much quicker than paper check delivery, so you might want to consider giving the IRS your information this time. I also realize that many folks don't have bank or other financial accounts. The Treasury/IRS statement does not expressly say, but I suspect that where they do not get any direct deposit info, they will cut you a paper check.
I am not typically required to file a tax return. Can I still receive my payment?
Many folks never send in a 1040 because they don't owe any tax and otherwise aren't required to file a return. These typically are low-income taxpayers, senior citizens, Social Security recipients, some veterans and individuals with disabilities.
UPDATE: April 2, 2020: After catching much-deserved heat from, well, just about everybody, the Treasury backtracked late April 1 and declared that Social Security recipients WILL NOT be required to file a special tax return to get their COVID-19 payments. They will be sent automatically based on qualifying individuals' SSA-1099 and RRB-1099 forms. That's good news for these senior citizens. I am, however, leaving the original must-file information below for the record.
Qualifying individuals in these non-filing categories will get COVID-19 payments, but they will be required to file a simple tax return.
This check distribution requirement is slightly different from preliminary information about the payments, which indicated the IRS would at least use Social Security Administration data to automatically issue the stimulus amounts.
The IRS says it will soon post instructions on its special Coronavirus Tax Relief web page for these folks on how to file a simple return to get their payments.
Some of these nonfiling folks are, understandably, freaking out a bit about having to submit a 1040, especially since it's not a usual thing for them. I get it. This happened back in 2008 with the Bush 43 rebates issued in the wake of the 2008 subprime mortgage meltdown and subsequent recession. I had to help my mom, who wasn't required to file a tax return, send in a 1040 back then so she could get her money.
This time, I suspect the IRS might require older individuals who don't usually file to send in Form 1040-SR, the new special, simplified form for taxpayers age 65 or older who don't itemize. They also might resurrect the 1040-EZ for this special COVID-19 payment.
I'm also presuming Free File will (should) be a major part of this effort for these individuals.
I have not filed my tax return for 2018 or 2019. Can I still receive an economic impact payment?
Yes. You just need to file a 1040 as soon as possible. Taxpayers should include direct deposit banking information on the return to expedite the COVID-19 payment's delivery.
I need to file a tax return. How long are the economic impact payments available?
These economic impact payments will be available throughout the rest of 2020. That means you have time after coronavirus shelter-at-home travel restrictions are eased to meet with your tax professional (or find one).
When it's medically safe again, local community organizations such as Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs across the United States also should reopen to help eligible taxpayers file their returns.
Where can I get more information?
The IRS will post all key information on these stimulus payments and other tax matters affected by the pandemic on its Coronavirus Tax Relief web page as soon as it becomes available.
You also can find updates here at the ol' blog, collected on a shortly be posted on a special COVID-19 page that will go live later today.
I hope these answer your questions about the payments. If not, let me know and I'll try to track down the answers.
|Coronavirus Caveat & More Information
In 2020, we're all dealing with extraordinary circumstances,
both in our daily lives and when it comes to our taxes.
The COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to reduce its transmission
and protect ourselves and our families means that,
for the most part, we're focusing on just getting through these trying days.
But life as we knew it before the coronavirus will return,
along with our mundane tax matters.
Here's hoping that happens soon!
In the meantime, you can find more on the virus and its effects on our taxes
by clicking Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Taxes.
You also might find these items of interest:
- Compare COVID payments using 2019 or 2018 tax return
- Tax, other scammers take advantage of coronavirus fears
- Coronavirus relief bill also expands charitable tax deduction options