Common stimulus check questions answered
The U.S. government passed a 3 trillion dollar economic stimulus package last month and is about to send stimulus payments in the form of checks or direct deposit to many American taxpayers to help people financially survive the COVID-19 outbreak. In order to better serve our contract employees and anyone else who may have questions, we have done some research to provide answers for many frequently asked questions about the CARE Act.
Please be aware that Visium Resources is not a financial institution, and while we are confident that this information is accurate and correct as of April 2, 2020; we are merely sharing common information to help our employees. Please consult with a certified accountant before making any financial decisions.
“What do I have to do to receive a stimulus check?”
If you have already filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019, you will not be required to do anything else to receive your stimulus check. However, if you haven’t filed taxes for either year, the IRS recommends that you file back taxes for 2018.
Individuals who are on Social Security and are not normally required to file a tax return do not need to take any additional action.
“How will I receive my stimulus check?”
The stimulus check will be sent to you in the same method you let the IRS to send your refund. Usually this will be direct deposit. However, if you are not set up for direct deposit, your check will be mailed using the address on your most recent tax return.
“What if I closed the bank account I used to receive my refund?”
If you don’t have access the same bank account as you used to receive your tax refund, the deposit will not go through. If this happens, the IRS will then mail your check to the address on your most recent tax return.
“What year tax return is the government using?”
The government will first look at your most recent return to determine your eligibility. If you have not filed your 2019 return, they will look at your 2018 tax return.
“Is the amount I receive based on my AGI or total income?”
The amount you receive will be calculated based on your adjusted gross income, not your total income.
How will the government decide how much I receive?
According to the bill, the amount you will receive from the COVID-19 stimulus package is determined by your AGI and your tax filing status. The government will look at your most recent tax return to get this information. If you haven’t prepared this year’s tax return yet, they will use your 2018 AGI and filing status. For more information on adjusted gross income, see this H&R Block post.
How much will I get from the government for my stimulus check?
The stimulus plan outlines the following amounts based on your adjusted gross income and filing status:
Stimulus check amount
$75,000 or less
Married filing jointly
$150,000 or less
Head of Household
$112,500 or less
Dependents under 17*
*Each qualifying dependent under age 17 at the end of the tax year will be worth an additional $500. This amount will be added to the check of their legal guardian.
If your income exceeds the thresholds in the chart above, the amount will be reduced on a sliding scale and phase out at $99,000 for single filers, $198,000 for joint filers, and $136,500 for head of household filers.
The IRS and Department of Treasury have not yet announced how much taxpayers filing married filing separately will receive.
Who will receive a stimulus check?
In order to be eligible for a stimulus payment from the US government you will need to meet the following requirements:
- You must have filed a tax return for tax year 2018, 2019, or have a Form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefit Statement, or Form RRB-1099, Social Security Equivalent Benefit Statement
- Your AGI of the most recent tax return must be below the threshold for your filing status
- You must be a citizen of the United States or a resident alien
- You must not be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return*
If you didn’t have to file a 2018 tax return, you still have time to file a tax return for 2019 and get your stimulus check.
*Dependents who are claimed on someone else’s return will not receive their own payment. However, if they are under age 17 at the end of the tax year, their legal guardian will receive an additional $500 for them.
Where will my stimulus check be sent?
The money will either be deposited directly into your bank account or mailed to you via check. You can deposit or cash the check like normal.
If you are set up to receive your tax refund via direct deposit, the IRS will use that information from your 2019 return to deposit the money directly into your bank account.
If your bank account is closed, the IRS will mail your check.
If you are not set up to receive direct deposit but have filed your 2019 return with your correct address, the IRS will use this information to mail you a check.
If you have not filed a 2019 tax return, the IRS will look to your 2018 tax return to acquire the information necessary to send you your payment.
If you haven’t used direct deposit on your 2018 or 2019 tax return but wish to receive the stimulus payment directly in your bank account, the Department of Treasury has said they will set up a new portal in the next few weeks. This online portal will allow you to send your current banking information to the IRS so you can receive your stimulus payment as soon as possible.
When will my stimulus check arrive?
The Department of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he expects most people to receive their payment within three weeks. If you are set up to receive direct deposit from the IRS, you will receive your payment sooner than a mailed check.