The IRS and the Treasury Department say Americans will start receiving their economic impact checks in the next three weeks.
The payments are part of the $2.2 trillion rescue package signed into law last week by President Donald Trump aimed at combating the economic ravages of the coronavirus outbreak.
Most people don’t need to do anything to get the money. But some — including low-income people who might not traditionally file tax returns — do need to take action. People behind on filing their taxes might also want to get caught up.
The Treasury announced late Wednesday that Social Security beneficiaries, senior citizens and railroad retirees who typically do not file a tax return will automatically get the $1,200 payment.
The announcement is a reversal from earlier in the week when the Internal Revenue Service said everyone would need to file some sort of tax return in order to qualify for the payments. Democrats and some Republicans criticized the IRS for requiring so many extra hurdles for this vulnerable population to get aid when the government already has their information on file.
“Social Security recipients who are not typically required to file a tax return need to take no action, and will receive their payment directly to their bank account,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Instead of using IRS information, the Treasury is expected to look at Social Security data for seniors and the disabled who don’t typically file a return.
The IRS and Treasury have provided more details on how to ensure you get paid. Here are the basics:
WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR THE PAYMENTS?
Anyone earning up to $75,000 in adjusted gross income and who has a Social Security number will receive a $1,200 payment. That means married couples filing joint returns will receive the full payment — $2,400 — if their adjusted gross income, which what you report on your taxes, is under $150,000.
The payment steadily declines for those who make more. Those earning more than $99,000, or $198,000 for joint filers, are not eligible. The thresholds are slightly different for those who file as a head of household.
Parents will also receive $500 for each qualifying child.
WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO TO GET THE CHECK?
For most people, nothing.
The money will be directly deposited in your bank account if the government has that information from your tax return. If you haven’t filed your 2019 taxes, the government will use information from your 2018 taxes to calculate your payment and determine where to send it. It can use your Social Security benefit statement as well.
I DON’T USUALLY HAVE TO FILE TAXES. DO I STILL GET A PAYMENT?
Yes. People who are not required to file a tax return — such as low-income tax payers, some senior citizens, and some veterans — may need to file a very simplified tax return to receive the economic impact payment. It provides the government basic details including a person’s filing status, number of dependents and direct-deposit bank information. Check the IRS site for the latest information on who needs to file a form.
I HAVEN’T FILED MY 2018 OR 2019 TAXES. WILL I STILL GET A PAYMENT?
Yes, but the IRS urges anyone required to file a tax return and has not yet done so for those years to file as soon as possible in order to receive an economic impact payment. Taxpayers should include their direct-deposit banking information on the return if they want it deposited in their account.
I DIDN’T USE DIRECT DEPOSIT ON MY TAXES, WHAT CAN I DO?
The government will default to sending you the check by mail if you did not use direct deposit.
However, IRS and Treasury say that they will develop an online portal in the coming weeks for individuals to provide their banking information so that they can receive the payments immediately instead of in the mail. It has not yet set a deadline for updating that information.
WHERE DO I DO THIS?
The IRS and Treasury say the website irs.gov/coronavirus will soon provide information about the check, including how people can file a simple 2019 tax return.
I NEED MORE TIME TO FILE MY TAX RETURNS. HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO GET THE PAYMENT?
The IRS says people concerned about visiting a tax professional or local community organization in person to get help with a tax return should not worry. The economic impact payments will be available throughout the rest of 2020.
Information from the Washington Post was included in this report.