2020 Stimulus Checks: Answers To Frequently Asked Questions

The Economic Impact Payments are one of the more popular provisions of the CARES Act, which was signed into law in late March, 2020. Here are answers to the most commonly asked questions we are receiving.

How much will I receive?

The amount you receive will depend on what was reported on your most recent tax filing. So if you’ve already filed your 2019 taxes (note: they’re not required to be filed until July 15th this year, but you may wish to file sooner if you’re due a refund) then it will be based on that. Otherwise, it’s based on your 2018 tax filing.

For single filers, if your adjusted gross income (AGI) was $75,000 or less you will receive $1,200. Married couples who file jointly with AGI of $150,000 or less will receive twice that amount, or $2,400. If you have dependent children under the age of 17, you could also receive an additional $500 per child. If your AGI is above these amounts, reduced stimulus checks will be sent for single AGI up to $99,000 and married filing jointly AGI up to $198,000. Filers earning more than these amounts will not receive a stimulus payment.

Kiplinger has published a helpful 2020 Coronavirus Stimulus Calculator to help you estimate how much you might receive from the federal government.

What do I need to do to get my check?

As long as you filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return – nothing. The IRS will either use direct deposit or mail a check to you based on the way you filed your taxes. If you provided direct deposit information with your tax filing, the IRS will use that method to electronically deposit your stimulus payment. If they do not have your direct deposit info on file, the IRS will mail a check to you, although that could significantly delay your receipt of the money.

You will have the opportunity to provide direct deposit information to the IRS in the coming weeks if you did not include that on your return, or if the information has changed. Keep an eye on this website for information on how to do that. Those who wait for checks could be waiting several months, based on some estimates.

What if I haven’t filed a tax return?

If you are a recipient of Social Security or a railroad retiree who typically does not file a tax return, the IRS will use the information on the Form SSA-1099 or Form RRB-1099 to generate a payment for you in the amount of $1,200. If you also have dependents who are not recipients of such payments, in order to receive payments for them, you would need to file a simple 2019 tax return. Others who do not normally file a tax return (e.g., low income, some veterans) also need to file a simple 2019 tax return in order to receive a stimulus check. 

The IRS will soon provide specific instructions for people who normally do not file a tax return on how they can file a simple 2019 tax return with some basic information including their filing status, number of dependents and direct deposit bank account information.

How fast can I get my stimulus payment?

As of April 1, 2020, the IRS anticipates stimulus payments to begin in approximately three weeks for those taxpayers who have filed a 2018 or 2019 federal tax return. Look for payments to begin near the last week of April.

Will I have to pay any of it back?

Most likely not. Technically, the checks are advances of refundable credits based on your 2020 income. This is confusing, since none of us knows how much we might earn in 2020, which is why the IRS is using previous years’ returns (2018 or 2019). When you file your 2020 tax return, the IRS will compare numbers and pay you more if you should have gotten more than you did initially because the IRS didn’t know something important (like the number of your dependent children).

If your 2020 tax return indicates that you got more stimulus money than you should because of your income, our sources suggest you should not have to pay it back. At least, that was the case with 2008 stimulus checks issued previously during the Great Recession after the housing market collapse.

Is the stimulus payment taxable?

No.

Where can I find more information about stimulus payments?

The IRS will post all key information at IRS.gov/coronavirus as soon as it becomes available. Tax filers are directed to look for information online rather than calling, since the IRS assistance lines are currently busy helping process 2019 tax returns.

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