Amid economic distress fueled by the coronavirus crisis, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law, which provides stimulus checks (also called Economic Impact Payments, or EIPs) to Americans, in addition to other relief provisions for small businesses and mortgage and rent payments. From April 11 to April 15, stimulus checks were direct deposited to most people who have a bank account on file with the IRS. The first physical checks were mailed out on April 24, with the lowest income taxpayers receiving the first batch. Around 160 million stimulus checks worth a total of about $270 billion have been sent to Americans so far.
Use our calculator below to figure out how much you’re in line to receive.
Under the coronavirus stimulus package, the size of your direct cash payment will depend entirely on your adjusted gross income (AGI) and filing status for 2018 or 2019. Here are the maximum amounts, though these limits are dependent on the AGI tier you fall within:
- Single filers can receive up to $1,200.
- Joint filers (married couples) can receive up to $2,400.
- Families receive an additional $500 per child under the age of 17. If you claimed your child as a dependent and they are over age 17, you will not receive $500 extra on your stimulus check. Your child will not qualify for a stimulus check of their own either.
The tables below break down payments by AGI level and tax filing status:
|Stimulus Check Amounts for Single Filers|
|$99,000 and up||$0|
|Stimulus Check Amounts for Joint Filers|
|$198,000 and up||$0|
Here’s a breakdown of what a stimulus check would look like for a head of household with one child:
|Stimulus Check Amounts for Heads of Household & 1 Child|
|$146,500 and up||$0|
Because of “phase-out” rules, wealthier earners would get smaller stimulus checks and the wealthiest won’t get anything. To calculate these stimulus checks, the government plans to use your AGI based on your 2019 tax returns if filed, or 2018 tax returns if you have yet to file for 2019. The 2020 federal income tax deadline has been extended, so you now have until July 15 to file your 2019 taxes.
The stimulus check money that you receive from the federal government is not taxable, meaning it will not be included in your yearly taxable income for 2020. The IRS also does not view your stimulus check as an advance on your tax refund for 2020, as they are entirely distinct from one another. Stimulus checks are also not seen as a loan from the federal government, so the money won’t need to be paid back.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced a bill called the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act that includes a second round of stimulus checks. In fact, the bill states that households would receive up to $1,200 per family member.
The total check amount that would be allowed on a per household basis is $6,000. In addition, individuals with an income of up to $75,000 would receive $1,200, with reduced amounts for anyone who made more than that. Married couples with an income of $150,000 or less would receive $2,400, with the same stipulations applying to them.
As of mid-May, the HEROES Act passed in the House of Representatives, but it still needs to pass in the Republican-controlled Senate before it would arrive on President Trump’s desk. Senate Republicans have put together their own stimulus plan that includes a limit on the bill’s total size, along with a provision that states it would be the final stimulus package passed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Nothing is expected to come to fruition until late July at the earliest, though.
Besides the HEROES Act, other stimulus proposals have been made by various members of Congress. For example, some have spoken about a temporary travel tax credit or a payroll tax cut for workers’ checks. There has also been support in favor of $2,000 monthly stimulus check for families. These have been proposed to last for certain periods of time, such as 12 months straight or the length of the pandemic, plus three months.
Consider saving or investing the money in your stimulus check. Speak with a financial advisor today.
When Will My Stimulus Check Arrive?
When it comes to those who are eligible for a stimulus check, they’ve likely already received their payment at this point. The first electronic stimulus check payments were sent out to Americans on April 11, with most of them arriving by April 15. Those that have their bank account on file with the IRS based on a tax return from 2018 or later were first in line for these payments. Here are the options available to you if your stimulus check hasn’t arrived yet.
As of April 24, the first paper checks were mailed out by the IRS. First in line for these payments are those with an AGI of $10,000 or less. Each week after these dates, the IRS will mail another five million checks to everyone with an AGI up to $10,000 higher than the previous week’s cap ($20,000, then $30,000 and so on). That could mean, though, that some Americans may not get their check in the mail until late summer or early fall.
Anyone who has their bank account on-file with the IRS and receives Social Security retirement benefits, Social Security survivor benefits, Social Security disability benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Railroad Retirement benefits or VA benefits should have already gotten their check via direct deposit.
Within 15 days of your check’s disbursement, you should receive notification in the mail that provides your method of payment and amount, along with a phone number to call if you didn’t get your payment. Take a look at our guide on what to do if you still haven’t received your check.
How Will I Receive My Stimulus Check?
In general, most stimulus checks have been paid to Americans via direct deposit. For the remainder of people that do not have direct deposit set up with the IRS, checks will come by mail. On these paper checks, “President Donald J. Trump” will be printed on the memo line.
The IRS has a free online tool called “Get My Payment” that you can use to track the status of your stimulus check. Prior to the May 13 deadline, the tool could also be used to update your direct deposit information, but that feature is no longer available. Even if you missed the deadline, you’re still eligible for a check, but you’ll need to wait for it to arrive by mail. For those with a high AGI, that might not be until late summer or early fall.
Anyone that’s required to file, but hasn’t for tax years 2018 or 2019 will need to file a 2019 return to receive a check. If you did not have to file a tax return in 2018 or 2019, the IRS has created an online tool that allows you to enter your personal and bank account information so you can receive your stimulus payment. The IRS explicitly states that you should not use this tool if you receive:
- Social Security retirement benefits
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
- Social Security Survivor benefits
- Railroad Retirement and Survivor benefits
There’s also a third method of payment for the stimulus checks: a prepaid debit card called “The Economic Impact Payment Card.” The Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service is sponsoring and backing these cards. Should you go this route, your card will come in a plain envelope sent by “Money Network Cardholder Services.”
If you are receiving your stimulus check by mail in the coming weeks, keep an eye out for anything that appears to be fraudulent, including fake stimulus check websites and counterfeit checks. For example, the U.S. Department of Justice is reporting that it has found “a number of look-alike IRS stimulus payment domains.”
What to Do If a Deceased Family Member Receives a Stimulus Check
As stimulus checks have continued to be sent to people across the U.S., there have been a number of reports stating that deceased relatives and spouses are receiving payments. If you or a family member are dealing with the fallout of this situation, there are some things you’ll need to take care of.
First and foremost, if someone died before their stimulus check was received, then they are no longer eligible for that check. In fact, new guidance from the IRS states that the families of any decedents who received a check must pay that money back. However, if a payment went to joint filers and only one spouse is still alive, then they are entitled to keep their half of the money, with the rest needing to be paid back.
According to information from the IRS, here’s what you need to do to return payment for your deceased family member:
- Direct deposit payments & paper check payments where the check has been cashed:
- Step 1: Mail a personal check or money order worth the same amount as the decedent’s check to the IRS refund inquiry unit your state is assigned to.
- Step 2: Address the check or money order to “U.S. Treasury” and write “2020EIP” and the decedent’s individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) or Social Security number.
- Step 3: Include a note that describes why the check is being returned to the IRS.
- Paper check payments that have not been cashed
- Step 1: Write “Void” in the endorsement section on the back of the check.
- Step 2: Avoid bending, stapling or paper clipping the check in any way.
- Step 3: Leave a note that states why you’re returning the check.
- Step 4: Mail the voided check to the IRS refund inquiry unit for your state.
Each state has been assigned to a specific IRS refund inquiry unit for stimulus check paybacks. To find the mailing address for your state, go to the Economic Impact Payment Information Center on the IRS website and scroll down to Question 13.
Tips for Surviving the Recession
- If you want to build a financial plan that can get you through a possible recession, get some professional help. Financial advisors specialize in these situations, as they typically have expertise in retirement planning, investing and more. SmartAsset’s free tool can pair you with advisors in your area based on your needs. Get started now.
- As long as you’re receiving a paycheck, don’t be afraid to continue contributing to your retirement account. It may be tempting to stop, but investing when the market is low will help balance out past years when the market was high.
- Americans have access to Unemployment Compensation (UC), the Extended Benefit (EB) program, the Families First Act and various other unemployment insurance (UI) provisions. As part of the coronavirus stimulus package for unemployed Americans, workers who lose their jobs because of coronavirus can receive unemployment for 13 weeks longer than usual. Also, the government has expanded the types of workers who are eligible to include independent contractors, gig workers, freelancers and people who have been furloughed.
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