With all the talk about stimulus checks since the passage of the CARES Act, you probably want to know when yours will come and what you can do to make the process go faster.
The information below will help you know what, if anything, you need to do.
- People began receiving stimulus direct deposits or checks starting the week of Apr. 13, 2020.
- The IRS has enhanced its Get My Payment online portal so taxpayers can provide direct deposit information, check the status of their stimulus payment, and receive payment date information.
- A TurboTax portal provides taxpayers an alternate way to get information to the IRS and calculate their stimulus payment.
- Social Security and railroad retirees will automatically receive their payment.
- Veterans beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients can use the new IRS non-filer portal.
- You probably don't need to do anything to get your payment unless you didn't file a tax return in 2018 or 2019.
- The Treasury Dept. made a deal to send out prepaid debit cards pre-loaded with the stimulus check through Visa Inc., Fiserv Inc., and Meta Financial Group Inc.'s Metabank, based on the U.S. Debit Card.
- If you are required to file taxes—but didn't file them in 2018 or 2019—you will need to file before you receive payment.
First, the most important question: Is your check on the way?
Do I Get a Stimulus Check?
The first checks started going out the week of April 13, 2020. The Department of Treasury's new portal, Get My Payment, opened on April 15 and announced significant enhancements April 26 to deliver an "improved and smoother experience." Use it to track the following information, according to the IRS :
- Your payment status
- Your payment type
- Your expected payment date
- Whether the IRS needs more information from you, including bank account information.
And here's more to help you assess your personal situation.
Myths About the Stimulus Payment
Rumors are flying fast and furious, as are scammers. Keep the following myths in mind as you prepare to receive your payment—or examine your account once it arrives.
Myth #1: I will have to declare my payment as income for 2020.
Stimulus checks are not taxable. They are considered refundable tax credits and therefore not subject to income tax.
Myth #2: If my 2020 income is higher than in 2019, I will have to pay money back.
While it's true that your stimulus check is calculated based on your 2018 or 2019 tax return and is intended as a refundable tax credit for 2020, if your 2020 income is higher than in the year used to calculate your stimulus payment, you do not have to pay back the difference.
Myth #3: If my 2020 income is lower than in 2019, I won't get the difference.
If your 2020 income is lower than in 2019 in a way that means you would have qualified for a larger stimulus check than you received, you can apply for the difference when you file your 2020 taxes in 2021.
Myth #4: Any refund I receive in 2020 will be reduced by the amount of this stimulus payment.
The stimulus is a refundable tax credit, not a regular refund. Your refund for tax year 2020 will not be affected by the stimulus payment.
Myth #5: If my dependent child turns 17 in 2020, I have to give that money back.
The rules state that the dependent child must be under the age of 17 at the end of 2019. So long as that is true, it doesn't matter that your child turns 17 in 2020.
Myth #6: If I did not claim my under-17 child as a dependent in 2019, I will not get the $500 payment for that child.
While you will probably not receive the dependent payment now, any child or children, including a baby born this year, you claim on your 2020 taxes will be eligible for the $500 payment when you file your 2020 taxes in 2021.
Myth #7: The IRS overpaid me and I've been told I have to return part of the money.
As noted above, if you receive an actual overpayment from the IRS, you do not have to return any of it, assuming it wasn't due to fraud. If you receive a check followed by a phone call or email instructing you to "keep the check but return the overpayment," that is a SCAM. Do not comply but do report this to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Your stimulus payment is not protected from collection by private debt collectors or for unpaid child support. However, other federal/state agency collections from your stimulus check are not allowed.
I Don't Know If I Am Eligible
If you have adjusted gross income (AGI) up to $75,000 ($112,500 for heads of household and $150,000 for couples filing jointly), you will receive the full amount, $1,200 for single or head of household filer and $2,400 for couples. Parents also receive $500 for each child under the age of 17. The amount you receive will be reduced by $5 for each $100 you earn above your threshold until it reaches zero.
I Believe I'm Eligible, But Haven't Received My Payment
Neither the CARES Act nor Get My Payment includes an appeals process. The only guidance from the IRS so far is this: "If you did not receive the full amount to which you believe you are entitled, you will be able to claim the additional amount when you file your 2020 tax return."
I Have Already Filed My 2019 or 2018 Tax Return
The first place the IRS will look for your bank information is your 2019 tax return. If you haven't filed yet, the agency will turn to your 2018 return. If either return has been filed and includes your bank information, you should automatically get your payment by direct deposit. There's nothing else for you to do.
I Filed, But Did Not Include My Bank Information
The Department of Treasury's new Get My Payment portal. is the way to get that information to the IRS. However, you may have missed the deadline to get your bank information to that portal to get a direct deposit—it was noon on May 13, 2020. In that case, you may have to wait for your check to be mailed.
Check the IRS Coronavirus Tax Relief website (see below) for updates and additional information.
VA and SSI recipients who don't file a tax return but have dependents have until May 5 to register dependents using the IRS special non-filer tool to get $500 per child with your regular stimulus check.
I'm on Social Security and Don't File a Tax Return
If you are a senior citizen, Social Security recipient, or railroad retiree who normally doesn't have to file a tax return, you do not have to do anything to receive the payment. Your payments should begin arriving starting Wed., April 29, 2020.
For those who met the April 22 deadline to register dependents, your stimulus payment including $500 for each dependent will also begin arriving starting April 29. If you missed the deadline, you should get your regular stimulus payment and can claim dependents when you file your 2020 tax return in 2021.
My Social Security Checks Go to a Representative Payee
Some beneficiaries have their checks managed by another person, known as a "representative payee." The Social Security Administration released an update on May 14 clarifying that these individuals "will begin receiving their Economic Impact Payments from the IRS in late May."
The announcement also clarified that qualified recipients in the U.S. territories ( American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) could begin receiving their checks in early June.
IRS Non-Filer Portal
The IRS has launched a portal for non-filers not otherwise scheduled to get a stimulus payment. This portal is for most people who do not normally file a tax return due to low income or who are veterans beneficiaries or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients. You should not use this portal if:
- You receive Social Security, Railroad Retirement, or SSDI benefits. The IRS will automatically send you an Economic Impact Payment.
- You have already filed a 2019 federal income tax return.
- Your 2019 gross income exceeded $12,200 ($24,400 for a married couple) or other reasons require you to file a 2019 federal tax return.
- You were married at the end of 2019 and are not submitting information here with your spouse.
- You were not a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident in 2019.
The IRS has provided an extensive FAQ section that covers most questions related to non-filers.
TurboTax also launched its own free online portal that lets you provide the IRS with information to get your stimulus check as soon as possible. If you do not need to file and do not receive Social Security or railroad benefits (see above), you can register and provide the IRS with your mailing address and banking information.
You also have the option to file through TurboTax if you should have filed but have not. In addition, the site lets you find out if you qualify and, if so, how much you will likely receive. TurboTax notes that this online portal is separate from the one the IRS created.
I Am Required, but Have Not Filed for 2018 or 2019
If you normally file and haven't, you should file as soon as possible to receive your money. Don't forget to include direct-deposit banking information on your return. Stimulus payments will be available through Dec. 31, 2020, in case you can't file immediately due to concern about visiting a tax preparer.
I Don't Have a Bank Account to Receive a Direct Deposit
If you don't have a bank account, the IRS will mail a check to the address listed on your 2018 or 2019 tax return. If that address is wrong, you should fill out and send in an IRS change of address form. That form normally takes four to six weeks to process.
The Treasury Dept. has made a deal to send out debit cards pre-loaded with the stimulus check through Visa Inc., Fiserv Inc., and Meta Financial Group Inc.'s Metabank. The mechanism for making this happen is based on the existing U.S. Debit Card. The Debit Card program lets federal agencies "make non-benefit federal payments to recipients through a magnetic-stripe, chip-enabled prepaid debit card," says the Bureau of the Fiscal Service website. "It provides an electronic alternative to checks, drafts and cash for recurring or nonrecurring payments."
Get My Payment: Real Life Example
If you e-file your tax return, the IRS should have your bank account information on file, but you should check to be sure. Using the Get My Payment portal, click on the Get My Payment button. The website is in high demand, so you may be asked to wait. The page will refresh automatically to let you in once traffic has died down.
You will be prompted to enter your Social Security number, date of birth, street address and Zip code. If the IRS has your bank account information on file, you will be told there is nothing else you need to do. Otherwise, you will be prompted for your adjusted gross income from your most recently-filed tax return, and the amount of taxes owed or refunded to you. Have your latest tax return at hand, just in case.
Once your identity has been verified, you enter your bank's routing number and account number. The IRS will make the deposit to a checking or savings account only. When the deposit is made, it will appear as a tax refund on your account statement. —Theresa Carey
Where to Go for Up-to-Date Information
The best place to get up-to-date information on the stimulus program, including any changes or new requirements, is the IRS Coronavirus Tax Relief website.This website provides the latest information from the IRS regarding stimulus payments as well as other tax-related information you need to know.
* Direct deposits are made on Wednesday only, even though the site is updated overnight. IOW, if you don't get payment today, the next possible date is next Wed.
* There's a bit more clarity for people who keep getting Stimulus Status Unavailable
* Clarity on "What if my child turns 17 this year? (Don't have to return money.)