Coronavirus $1,200 stimulus check: See if you’re eligible, how to get your payment from the IRS

Coronavirus $1,200 stimulus check: See if you’re eligible, how to get your payment from the IRS


As part of the stimulus package, you may be eligible for a payment from the federal government.

Angela Lang/CNET

The US government’s coronavirus relief checks are coming, and you have questions: Are you entitled to receive a check? How much will you get, when will they come and how will the money arrive? Can you track your stimulus check? What should you spend it on? Stick with us. We’re going to tell you everything you need to know.

Here’s the background: Eligible US taxpayers could receive up to $1,200 from the federal government as part of a $2 trillion relief package intended to ease the economic blow caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The first 2020 stimulus checks should start to arrive around the middle of April. If you’re eligible, the IRS and Treasury Department will offer to deposit the money directly into your bank account. This includes people who regularly receive Social Security payments.

 Your chances to get some amount of money are good. As many as nine in 10 US households may qualify to receive an “economic impact payment,” as the IRS calls it.

In addition to the payments for individuals who meet the requirements, the new economic stimulus law includes help for people who are unemployed or owe student loans, as well financial support for small businesses and their employees.

Not everyone will receive the total $1,200 cash payment amount and some won’t get a stimulus check at all. Keep reading for help on finding out how much you’re entitled to. We’ll continue to update this story as developments occur. Here’s more information on how to avoid COVID-19 scams and how else you can get financial relief during the coronavirus outbreak.

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How much stimulus money you get depends on your taxes

The total amount of your stimulus check will be based on your adjusted gross income, or AGI, from your 2019 federal tax filing or — if you haven’t filed this year — your 2018 filing.  

If you’ve filed your 2019 federal tax return, you can find that figure on line 8b of the 2019 1040 federal tax form. It’s line 7 on the 2018 1040 tax form. If you haven’t filed this year, don’t worry. The US government has delayed the due date for 2019 taxes to July 15 as a result of coronavirus.

This is who is eligible for a stimulus payment

The amount you’ll receive will depend on your total income in 2019 or 2018. If you qualify, you’ll receive one payment. Here’s who qualifies:

  • If you’re a single US resident and have an adjusted gross income less than $99,000
  • If you file as the head of a household and earn under $146,500
  • If you file jointly without children and earn less than $198,000

Read on for how your payment is calculated and how much you can expect. You can also look at this calculator from the Washington Post.


Every little bit helps.

Angela Lang/CNET

How much you’ll get as a single taxpayer

A single US resident must have a Social Security number and an AGI under $75,000 to receive the full amount of $1,200. The sum decreases as your AGI goes up. If your adjusted gross income reaches $99,000, you won’t be eligible for the stimulus. 

Heads of household

If you file as head of a household, you will get the full $1,200 payment if your AGI is $112,500 or less, with the amount decreasing till you reach $146,500.

Couples filing jointly

Married couples filing jointly without children with an adjusted gross income below $150,000 will get a $2,400 payment, decreasing to zero at $198,000. For each child age 16 or younger in the family, parents will get a payment of $500. Older children and other dependents may not be eligible for a payment.

If you haven’t filed federal taxes for 2018, do that right now

The IRS said if you haven’t filed your 2018 federal taxes, that could affect your stimulus check and urges anyone who hasn’t filed a 2018 tax return to file now. Be sure to include direct deposit banking information on the return.

Read more: The best tax software for 2020: TurboTax, H&R Block, TaxSlayer and more

If you’re typically not required to file a tax return, you still can receive a payment

Many who normally are not required to file a tax return — including senior citizens, Social Security, and railroad retirees — will not need to file a simple tax return to receive the payment, the IRS said. The Social Security Administration said it is working the Treasury Department for payments for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients.

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What about Social Security recipients?

The Treasury Department said that Social Security beneficiaries who are not typically required to file tax returns will not need to file an abbreviated tax return to receive a payment. Instead, the IRS will use the information on Form SSA-1099 for Social Security beneficiaries who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019.

When will the checks will go out?

The first people should begin receiving their checks within two weeks if they have direct deposit set up with the IRS. If you’ve not set up direct deposit with the IRS, it may take longer and the government will mail your check. Here’s what we know about tracking your stimulus payment so far.

You’ll be able to set up direct deposit to have the check sent to your bank account

If you don’t have direct deposit set up but want to receive the payment electronically, the federal government will create an online system that will let you set up electronic payments so you get the money deposited directly into a bank account, according to US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin

The IRS said the online tool will be available by mid-April. To avoid scams, the IRS cautions you not to provide your direct deposit or other banking information to others who offer to help you set up an electronic transfer.

Do you need to sign up, apply or request your check?

For most, the federal government will automatically send your check to you electronically or in the mail, if you qualify. If you’ve not filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019, the IRS said you may need to file one to receive a payment. The IRS’s coronavirus page will soon have instructions who is required to file and how.

What to do if you don’t receive your check

If you qualify for a payment, you should expect a notice in the mail from the government with information about where and when it sent your check. If you receive the notice but not the check or direct deposit, contact the IRS using information in the notice.

We have tips for how best to use your stimulus check and how to avoid being scammed. In addition to the economic stimulus package, the US government delayed the income tax filing deadline to July 15. If you need more help, here’s how to get financial relief.

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