Coronavirus stimulus checks up to $1,200: Find out if you’re eligible for the payment

Coronavirus stimulus checks up to $1,200: Find out if you’re eligible for the payment


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


Angela Lang/CNET

For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

The stimulus payments are going out: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Sunday said the first paper checks will go out “starting next week,” and CNET readers are reporting they’ve been notified their checks will be mailed April 24. The IRS last week started transferring coronavirus stimulus payments into the bank accounts of eligible US residents who set up direct deposit with the IRS. Up to 150 million US residents may qualify for a payment of up to $1,200 each.

Here we’ll break down what you need to know if you haven’t received your 2020 economic impact payment yet: How to find out if you’re eligible and how much money you could get. What to do if you’re usually exempt from filing taxes. And how to track your 2020 stimulus check if you don’t see the total post in your bank account  — although some are experiencing problems with the Get My Payment tool.

If you haven’t set up direct deposit with the IRS, there’s still time to receive your payment straight to your bank account.

Plus, here’s more personal finance information on how you should spend the stimulus moneyhow to avoid COVID-19 scams, how coronavirus affects your rent payment and how else you can get financial relief during the coronavirus outbreak.


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Is the money yours, free and clear?

Yes. You don’t have to pay taxes on any stimulus payment you receive from the IRS. It’s also not an advance on your usual tax refund. If you get a check now, your 2019 tax refund won’t be smaller as a result. You can spend the total of your stimulus money just like cash.

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.

Here’s 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.

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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 until 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 children

For each child aged 16 or younger in the family, parents will get a payment of $500. Parents will not receive a payment for children born, adopted or placed into foster care in 2020 because the payment is based only on information from your 2019 or 2018 tax return. The IRS said you may claim the child next year for an additional credit on your 2020 tax return. 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 could still receive a payment

Many who normally are not required to file a tax return — including senior citizens, Social Security and Social Security Disability Insurance recipients and railroad retirees — will not need to file a simple tax return to receive the payment, the IRS said.

The IRS said recipients of Supplemental Security Income will automatically receive the full $1,200 economic impact payment, with no action needed on their part. The IRS projects payments for these recipients will go out by early May.

Others, including those who haven’t filed a 2018 or 2019 return because they are under the normal income limits for filing a tax return, can use the Non-Filers portal to get their payment. To get started, go to the IRS’ Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here site and tap the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here button. As part of the process, you’ll enter personal information and, if you want to receive your stimulus check by direct deposit, banking information.


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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?

That depends. Many who set up direct deposit with the IRS started receiving their stimulus money last week. If you haven’t, it isn’t clear when the agency will send your check in the mail. CNET readers report they expect their checks to be mailed out April 24. And Secretary Mnuchin said the first paper checks will be mailed in a week. We’ve asked the IRS for clarification. Here’s what we know about tracking your stimulus payment.

If you moved since the last time you filed your taxes, here’s where you can update your address with the IRS.

You can also set up direct deposit to have the check sent to your bank account

If you don’t have direct deposit to your bank account set up, but you want to receive the payment electronically, the IRS’ online tool is available now. Here’s what we know about that. 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.


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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. Scroll up to the section “If you’re typically not required to file a tax return, you can still receive a payment” for details on who is required to file and how.

What to do if you don’t receive your check

If you qualify for a payment, the IRS plans to mail you a letter about your payment to your last known address within 15 days after it sends the money. The letter will provide information on how the IRS made the payment and how to report not receiving the payment if you don’t get it. Note that if you file with TurboTax, H&R Block or other popular services you might have a problem checking the status and setting up direct deposit, The Washington Post reported.

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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