Congress recently passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which includes a $1,200 stimulus check for eligible taxpayers whose income falls under the eligibility threshold. The income eligibility limit is based on your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) from your 2019 tax return, or your 2018 tax return if you have not yet filed your taxes.
But what if your income level is low enough that you don't have to file a tax return? Or what if your sole source of income is non-taxable, such as VA Disability Compensation?
The good news is that you will still be eligible for the stimulus check. But there may be one additional step you need to take -- you will have to provide your information to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) via their website.
Let's take a look at the full details.
2020 Economic Stimulus Check Eligibility
The stimulus check is designed to help individuals with lower income levels. Single taxpayers whose AGI is $75,000 or lower are eligible for the full $1,200 check. The check amount decreases as your income increases, until you reach the limit of $99,000. Single taxpayers with an AGI above $99,000 will not receive a stimulus check.
Married taxpayers filing jointly are each eligible to receive a stimulus check, up to a total of $2,400. The qualifying AGI limit for married couples is double that of single individuals. Married couples who have an AGI of $150,000 or less will receive the full $2,400. That amount phases out until the limit of $198,000; married couples who earn more than that amount will not be eligible for a stimulus check.
There is an additional $500 for each child under the age of 17 who is claimed as a dependent.
How and When You Will Receive Your Stimulus Check
In most cases, no action is needed on your part. The IRS will automatically process most stimulus checks. It plans to send the checks in the same way taxpayers elected to receive their tax refunds when they filed their taxes. If you chose to receive your tax refund via direct deposit, the IRS will use the same information to send your stimulus check.
If you chose to receive your refund via a check or if the IRS does not have any direct deposit information for you, it will send your check to the address it has on file.
The IRS plans to start sending stimulus checks as early as April 13, 2020. However, it can take up to a week from the time the checks are sent until they clear your bank. The IRS has not stated how long it will take to process stimulus checks paid via direct deposit. However, based on tax refund schedules, it will likely take several weeks to process all of these stimulus checks.
If you are among the estimated 40% of taxpayers who do not have direct deposit information on file, your wait will most likely be longer. The IRS has estimated that it will likely take up to four months to send out all stimulus checks via mail. Officials hope to start sending physical checks beginning the week of May 4, 2020. They expect to process approximately 5 million checks per week; processing all the checks could take several months.
The IRS portal that allows non-taxpayers to enter their payment instructions also will taxpayers to either update their direct deposit information or track the status of their stimulus check.
What if You Didn't File a Tax Return?
You are not required to file a tax return if your taxable income is below $12,200 ($24,400 for married couples). This includes people whose only income was non-taxable income, such as Social Security Disability (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), VA disability compensation, dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC), or similar benefits.
The IRS has announced it will automatically send stimulus checks to those who receive Social Security benefits or Railroad Retirement and Survivor benefits, if you received only VA benefits and no other taxable income you must provide payment instructions to the IRS to ensure you get your stimulus payment in a timely manner. The IRS will require your name, address, Social Security Number, banking information and other details to process your payment.
If you had more than the minimum taxable income and failed to file taxes for other reasons, you must file your taxes for previous years to receive the stimulus payments.
How to File Your Tax Return
The IRS offers the Free File program for all taxpayers who have an AGI of $69,000 or less. You can do this directly through the IRS website, or with one of its approved Free File organizations. Most of the major tax software companies offer Free File.
The IRS pushed back the tax-filing deadline. Tax returns are normally due by April 15 each year. However, due to the disruptions in the economy, the IRS pushed back the tax deadline to July 15, 2020.
That said, the sooner you file your tax return, the sooner you will be eligible to receive the stimulus check. And while you're at it, include your direct deposit information. You will receive your stimulus check much more quickly via direct deposit than a physical check (up to several months sooner).
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