So, what is the deal with the coronavirus stimulus checks to be issued by our fabulous Treasury Department? Some answers to questions on everyone’s mind:
How do I qualify?
The qualification is that the recipient has $75,000 or less in adjusted gross income on their most recent tax return for single filers, $112,500 or less for household heads, or $150,000 or less for joint filings by married couples together with certain caps above those amounts.
Do I have to file a tax return?
At this writing, the stimulus bill requires filing a 2019 return (or at least a 2018 return if you haven’t yet filed a 2019 return). However, low-income taxpayers, senior citizens and Social Security recipients, and veterans and individuals with disabilities who generally don’t have to file returns, will still get such checks by virtue of the IRS gleaming such income qualification from the Social Security Administration.
Critics note that Social Security won’t have the information for veterans getting benefits from the Veterans Affairs Department, thereby forcing them to perhaps file a return to get the funds.
If qualifying for the refund requires you to have filed a 2018 or 2019 return but you haven’t, you can qualify by doing so now.
How much do I get?
Each qualifying adult gets $1,200 ($2,400 for jointly filing married couples), plus $500 for each qualifying child under 17. Non-filers will only get the $1,200 check without additional amounts for dependent children if the IRS cannot confirm with Social Security that you have such qualifying dependents.
The stimulus amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 of income above the $75,000/$112,500/$150,000 thresholds. It reduces to zero for single filers with adjusted gross income above $99,000, heads of households above $136,500 and joint filers above $198,000, unless there are children.
How do I get the payment?
The check is in the mail, so to speak. The IRS said Friday that payments will start next week.
The quickest way is if you got a refund for your 2019 or 2018 tax return via direct deposit. If so, your stimulus funds will be electronically deposited in the account the IRS has on file.
Mailings will go to the last address the IRS or the Social Security Administration has on file for you.
The IRS has tools on its website so those who didn’t have to file a return can enter their payment information and others can update what’s on file to minimize the delay. As of this writing, the latter tool says it is “coming mid-April.”
Otherwise, you do not need to do anything to initiate getting payment except for filing tax returns as noted above.
Keep in mind that if you owe child support, that can be taken out of your stimulus amount, but there are no offsets for any other debts owed the government.
Do I have to pay this back?
No. This is a one-time payment that won’t reduce any refund that is otherwise owed now, and you won’t have to pay a tax on it on this year’s return or next year’s. For more, go to irs.gov/coronavirus.
Happy Easter. And stay in those rabbit holes till this is over, please.