Fact Check: Stimulus Payments — Your Questions Answered
(RightWing.org) – Americans need money and many need it badly right now since the federal and state governments have shut the economy down as a by product of trying to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last few weeks, unemployment claims have soared to heights America has never seen before.
Over 10 million people have filed an unemployment claim to date and that number will only continue to grow rapidly over the coming weeks. On Friday morning, the newest job figures showed 701,000 jobs were lost through the middle of March and the unemployment rate ticked up to 4.4%.
Now, with the rescue relief money approved in the last stimulus package starting to go out, people have a lot of questions about it. Is it free money? Does it count as income? How much will I get? How will it affect my personal situation?
We’ve grouped together every some of the most common questions for you and put them in one easy place to find.
1. Who Will Get a Direct Payment and How Much Will It Be?
Most Americans will be getting a payment. To determine eligibility, the IRS will use your adjusted gross income (AGI), not your gross income. AGI is your gross income minus deductions and credits.
A single person whose AGI is less than $75,000 will get $1,200. Married couples whose AGI is less than $150,000 will receive $2,400. Families with children under 17 will get $500 per child.
Those in higher tax brackets may still be eligible for payment, but it will not be the maximum amount. For singles whose AGI is over $99,000 or married whose AGI is over $198,000 — you will not be getting a relief payment.
2. What If I Don’t File Taxes?
If you’re retired, a disabled vet, or don’t pay taxes you’ll still get a payment. If a government agency, like the Social Security Administration or the Veterans Administration, has your payment information you don’t have to do a thing. The IRS will communicate with the other agencies to ensure you get the relief money the same way you currently get your monthly Social Security or other government benefits payment.
3. What Do I Have to Do to Get Paid?
If you filed taxes in 2018 or 2019 or another federal government agency has paid you benefits, you don’t have to do a thing. Your payment will be automatically taken care of.
However, if you haven’t filed taxes or the federal government doesn’t have your information, the Treasury Department has said a website will be set up by early May for you to provide the IRS with your direct deposit information so they can pay you.
4. When Will Payments Start Going Out?
The IRS will start sending out direct deposit payments in mid-April to those whose bank account information is on file with the agency.
5. What If I Get Checks Instead of Direct Deposit?
If you filed your taxes and requested a check instead of direct deposit, or your government benefits are paid by check, your stimulus will come by check as well. However, they will not start being mailed until May, and the final round of checks may not go out until September.
Checks will be mailed to those with the lowest income first.
6. Will I Have to Pay the Money Back?
No. Technically the direct payments are tax credit advancements for the 2020 tax season. It’s similar to the child tax credit which isn’t considered income and isn’t taxable. Here’s the best part — if the credit amount you qualify for in 2020 is less than what you qualify for based on your 2019 tax return, you will not have to pay it back.
In other words— the government is giving you free money to help you through the crisis.
7. I’m Disabled – Do I Qualify for a Relief Check?
Yes, you qualify for a relief check. Here’s the best part — since it does not count as income, it does not count against your income limits or affect your current disability benefits.
8. Are There Any Conditions on Who Receives a Payment?
There is only one condition that affects receiving a payment. If you are responsible for child support and a court has determined you owe back child support payments — your check could be reduced by the amount you owe and will be deducted by the Treasury Department.
9. What If I Owe Back Taxes?
If you owe back taxes in any amount to the IRS or any other government agency, you will still get the full payment.
10. What If I’m in Default on School Loans?
Even if you have defaulted on your school loans, you will still get a payment.
11. Someone Called Me About the Stimulus Check. Is it Legitimate?
No, it’s not legitimate. If anyone calls or asks in any form of communication online or offline for your bank information to verify direct deposit information or promises to speed up your payment — it’s a scam.
The IRS only communicates via mail and will never call, email, text or directly communicate with anyone on social media. If you are contacted through any of these methods, you can be sure it’s a scam.
By Don Purdum, Freelance Contributor
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