Coronavirus Aid Checks: Who is Eligible, When to Expect It, and More

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   Many Americans will soon get government checks to help them financially weather job loss, reduced work hours, and other money challenges as the country tries to stem the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

   The $2 trillion stimulus package passed the Senate and House of Representatives last week, and it was signed shortly thereafter by President Donald Trump. This is the largest emergency aid package in U.S. history, and $250 billion of it goes directly to Americans’ wallets.

   Here’s what you need to know:

Who gets a stimulus check?

Your eligibility is based on your most recent tax return and your adjusted gross income. If you already filed your 2019 taxes, your eligibility will be based on that. If not, the Internal Revenue Service will use your 2018 taxes to determine if you qualify. The benefit is available not only to those who have filed taxes, but also to those who receive Social Security benefits as long as they’ve received their SSA-1099 form.

How much will I get?

It depends on how much you make. If you made less than $75,000 in 2019, you will be eligible for the full payment of $1,200. Couples who filed jointly and made less than $150,000 will get $2,400. An individual who filed as “head of household” and earned $112,500 or less gets $1,200. For every child in the household, you will receive an additional $500. If you made more than $75,000, your payment will be reduced by $5 for every $100 of income that exceeds the limits. So if you made $80,000 in 2019, you will receive $950. The payment decreases to zero for an individual making $99,000 or more or a couple making $198,000 or more. If you’re a family of four, you’ll be eligible for a maximum of $3,400.

Who doesn’t get a check?

Single adults who make more the $99,000 and married couples who earn more than $198,000 won’t receive stimulus checks. Those without a Social Security number and nonresident aliens — those who aren’t a U.S. citizen or U.S. national and don’t have a green card or have not passed the substantial presence test — aren’t eligible. You’re also ineligible if your parents claim you as a dependent on their taxes.

When will the stimulus check arrive?

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the White House wants the payments distributed by April 6. “Our expectation is within three weeks we will have direct payments out where we have depository information,” Mnuchin said. “We’re looking to get a lot more information and we have procedures to do that.” The checks will be directly deposited into your bank account if you received your last tax refund or expect to receive this year’s refund that way. If not, checks will be mailed, which could take longer to get to Americans. Reports suggested that mailed checks could take up to four months to get to recipients.

How will the government send you the stimulus check?

The IRS will use the direct deposit information you provided from the taxes you’ve filed either for 2019 or for 2018. If you have no direct deposit information on file or if the account provided is now closed, the IRS will mail you a check instead.

Do you have to pay back the stimulus check?

No. The stimulus payment is actually a refundable credit against your 2020 tax liability, and is paid out as an advanced refund. That means you don’t have to wait to file your 2020 taxes to get the money. It also doesn’t reduce any refund you would otherwise receive.

I’m a disabled vet but don’t pay taxes. Do I qualify?

Yes, although some of the details still need to be worked out. The IRS is expected to set up a system so that disabled veterans don’t fall through the cracks.

I’m a college student. Do I get a check?

If your parents claim you as a dependent on their taxes, you’re ineligible. But if you’ve been working and filing taxes independently in recent years, you may qualify.

I’m not an American citizen. Do I qualify?

Yes — as long as you’re living and working in the U.S. with a valid Social Security number. That includes green card holders, and it generally includes those on work visas, such as an H-1B and H-2A. But it generally excludes visitors and people who are in the U.S. illegally.

What if I’m homeless or recently got out of prison? Will I get help?

As long as you have a Social Security number, you should be eligible to apply for the relief payments under the new system created by the IRS.

I owe back taxes. Will the IRS snatch my check?

The bill doesn’t exclude you from getting a payment if you owe past due taxes. That said, the IRS has yet to set up the new system.