The global coronavirus pandemic of 2020 is unlike anything most of us have experienced. The most effective method of fighting this invisible threat is by social distancing, which, unfortunately, has shut down much of the world’s economy and has forced many into under or unemployment, significantly reducing their income. The U.S. government has taken emergency action to provide many low- and middle-income citizens with a stimulus check to help them bridge this income gap.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 trillion dollar stimulus bill, includes provisions that will send adult Americans a check for $1,200, married couples $2,400, and an additional $500 per child under the age of 17.
This article covers everything you need to know about the 2020 stimulus check, including who is eligible, when you will receive it, whether you have to pay it back, and more.
Who is Eligible for the 2020 Stimulus Check?
There are several eligibility requirements people must meet in order to be eligible for the stimulus check. They can be broken down into two main criteria – age & citizenship requirements, and income eligibility.
Age & Citizenship Eligibility Requirements
There are several important notes regarding stimulus check eligibility:
- Citizenship Eligibility: The stimulus checks are only available to taxpayers with a Social Security Number. It is not available to taxpayers with an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number). This excludes many taxpayers who are not U.S. citizens.
- Qualifying Ages for Children: Children ages 16 and under are eligible for an additional $500 on their parents’ or guardians’ tax return. Children who are ages 17 and older and are a dependent on another person’s tax return are not eligible for this stimulus check. This cuts out a number of high school and college-age workers.
Income-based Stimulus Check Eligibility Requirements
If you meet the citizenship and age requirements, you must still meet the income eligibility. This is based on your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) from the most recent tax year you filed taxes. So if you have already filed taxes in 2019, then the IRS will use the AGI from your 2019 tax return. If not, then they will use your 2018 tax return.
If you have not yet filed your 2019 tax return (the deadline has been automatically extended until July 15, 2020), then you can delay filing your taxes if your AGI from 2019 will exceed the limit and your 2018 AGI qualifies. Conversely, if you exceeded the income limit in 2018, but will not in 2019, then you should file ASAP.
Individual Taxpayer Stimulus Check Income Limits:
- Individual taxpayers are eligible for the full amount of the stimulus payment if their AGI was less than $75,000.
- The Stimulus Check payment phases out starting at $75,000 through $99,000.
- Individual taxpayers who had an AGI greater than $99,000 will not be eligible for the stimulus check.
- Taxpayers will receive an additional $500 for each qualifying child ages 16 and under.
Married Couples Filing Jointly Stimulus Check Income Limits:
- Married couples filing jointly are eligible for the stimulus check if their AGI was $150,000 or less.
- The amount of the check phases out between $150,000 and $198,000.
- Those whose income exceeds the AGI limit will not receive a stimulus check.
- Taxpayers will receive an additional $500 for each qualifying child ages 16 and under.
How the Income Phase-Out Works
Individual taxpayers who had an AGI between $75,000 and $99,000 and married couples with an AGI between $150,000 and $198,000 will receive a decreased stimulus check. It works like this:
- The stimulus check decreases by 5% ($5 for every $100) in $100 increments for each level above the threshold.
Here is a quick way to run the math.
- Take your AGI and subtract the starting income for the phase-out ($75,000 if a single taxpayer, or $150,000 for married couples).
- Next, divide this number by 10 (this gives you the number of $100 increments)
- Multiply this number by $5 (the reduction is $5 per every $100 above the threshold)
- Subtract this number from the full stimulus check amount $1,200 or $2,400).
Example: You are a single taxpayer with an $80,000 AGI.
- $80,000 – $75,000 = $5,000.
- $5,000/$100 = 50
- $50 * $5 = $250
- $1,200 – $250 = $950
Will I Get a Stimulus Check if I Don’t File a Tax Return?
Maybe. You should still be eligible for the stimulus check if you don’t normally file a tax return because your income is too low or you only receive non-taxable income, such as SSDI, or VA disability benefits.
However, the checks may not be automatically sent.
Who does not need to file a tax return?
The IRS does not require certain individuals to file a tax return if they do not have any income, their income is below a certain threshold, or they only have non-taxable income.
- Income limits for filing a tax return: Taxpayers do not need to file a tax return if their AGI was under $12,200 for single taxpayers or $24,400 for married couples.
- They also do not need to file a tax return if they only had non-taxable income.
Some Stimulus Checks Will be Automatically Sent to Those Who Didn’t File a Tax Return
You should automatically receive a stimulus check if you receive any of the following federal benefits:
- Social Security Retirement, Social Security Disability (SSDI), or Social Security Survivor Benefits
- Railroad Retirement and Survivor Benefits
- VA Service-Connected Disability Benefits (this is an update, as of April 17, 2020).
However, it is important to note that you will need to file a tax return if you have any children ages 16 or under. The IRS will not have this information in your file and will need it in order to process the additional $500 payment.
How Non-Tax Filers Can Get the Stimulus Check
Those who don’t file a tax return can still get the stimulus check if they are not included among those who will automatically receive the stimulus check. This may include disabled individuals whose primary source of income was a non-taxable benefit such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Those individuals will either need to file a tax return or use the IRS Non-Tax Filers Payment Info Form.
You can file for free using the IRS free file program or software from one of the leading tax software companies.
How to Use the IRS Non-Filers Payment Info Form
The IRS has set up a website to make it quick and easy to submit your information to receive your stimulus check.
- Full name, current mailing address and an email address
- Date of birth and valid Social Security number
- Bank account number, type and routing number, if you have one
- Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) you received from the IRS earlier this year, if you have one
- Driver’s license or state-issued ID, if you have one
- For each qualifying child: name, Social Security number or Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number and their relationship to you or your spouse
When Will I Get My Stimulus Check?
The IRS Hopes to start sending out stimulus checks during the week of April 12th. However, it will most likely take several months before the IRS will be able to send stimulus checks to every eligible individual.
Previous economic stimulus checks sent out in 2008 and 2001 took several weeks to several months to begin sending checks, and an additional few months to complete the process.
Right now, we don’t have a firm schedule. We will update this article when the bill passes and we have further guidance regarding the 2020 Stimulus Check payment schedule.
The good news is that more people file their taxes electronically these days, and more taxpayers opt for direct deposit to receive their tax returns. The IRS will send stimulus checks in the same manner taxpayers opted to receive their tax refund.
How Will I Receive My Stimulus Check – By Mail or Direct Deposit?
The IRS will send out stimulus checks in the same method taxpayers elected to receive their refund on their most recent tax return. If you opted to have your refund direct deposited into your checking or savings account, then the IRS will automatically deposit your check into your bank account.
If you opted to have your check mailed, then the IRS will send a check to the address they have on file.
Can I Update or Change My Payment Method?
The IRS is working on building a “Get Your Payment” page in which taxpayers can
- confirm payment method – direct deposit or check
- enter or update their payment method,
- add or change their bank for direct deposit,
- update their address if they wish to receive a paper check, and
- check the status of their stimulus check payment.
This page is expected to launch in Mid-April. We will update this page when it is live. You can also check this page for updates from the IRS.
Is the Stimulus Check Taxable? Will I Have to Pay it Back?
No, the stimulus check is considered a refundable tax credit, which means it is not considered taxable income. In essence, this is like a refund you get in advance of filing your 2020 tax return.
The IRS will compare your AGI from your 2020 tax return and the AGI used to determine your stimulus check amount (from either your 2018 or 2019 tax return). If the amount of your stimulus check was lower than you would have received based on your AGI from 2020, then the IRS will give you the difference.
If you saw the example from above, we used a single taxpayer with an AGI of $80,000. They would receive a stimulus check of $950 because that income fell in within the phase-out limits. If this same individual has an AGO of $75,000 or lower in 2020, the IRS would give them the difference, in this case, they would receive an additional $250.
If your income exceeds the AGI limits in 2020, the IRS will not clawback the stimulus payments you received.
Will My Dependent Child Get a Stimulus Check if They Paid Taxes?
You can only receive the $500 additional payment for children if they are ages 16 and under. Children who are ages 17 and over are not eligible for the $500 payment on their parents’ tax return.
Additionally, anyone who is claimed as a dependent is not eligible for the stimulus check. So if your child is age 17 or over and you claim them on your tax return, they will not be eligible for their own stimulus check, even if they have a job and file their own tax return.
2020 Stimulus Check Frequently Asked Questions
How much is my stimulus check?
- If you qualify, your stimulus check will be $1,200 (single taxpayers) or $2,400 (married couples filing jointly)
- You can receive an additional $500 for each child ages 16 and under that you claim on your tax return.
- Your stimulus check will be reduced starting at an AGI above $75,000 ($150,000 married couples). Those with an income above $99,000 ($198,000 couples) will not receive a stimulus check.
When will I receive my stimulus check?
- The IRS hopes to begin sending stimulus checks the week of April 12, 2020.
- Those who have direct deposit will receive their checks more quickly.
- It may take the IRS several months to mail out all stimulus checks (they can process around 5 million checks per week, but there are tens of millions of taxpayers who will need to receive a paper check).
How and where will I receive my stimulus check?
- The IRS is sending checks to individuals in the same way they opted to receive tax refunds – either via direct deposit or by mail at the address they have on file
Can I change my payment method or update my address on file?
- Yes. The IRS is working on “Get My Payment” page, which should go live in mid-April.
- You will be able to check the status of your stimulus check, change or update direct deposit information, change your address on file, or change your payment method.
- You can learn more here.
Will my child get a stimulus check?
- Parents will receive an additional $500 on their stimulus check for each Child they claim that is age 16 and under. Children ages 17 and over are not eligible for a stimulus check if they are claimed as a dependent on their parent’s tax return. This applies even if they have a job and file their own tax return.
I don’t file a tax return. Will I get a stimulus check?
- This depends on why you didn’t file a tax return. Some citizens are not required to file a tax return because their income is too low or they only have non-taxable income.
- If this describes you and you otherwise qualify, then yes, you will be eligible for the stimulus check.
- You do not need to file a tax return if you receive the following benefits: Social Security Retirement, Social Security Disability (SSDI), or Social Security Survivor Benefits, or Railroad Retirement and Survivor Benefits. However, you may need to inform the IRS if you have a child ages 16 or under if you wish to receive the additional $500 per child.
- You may need to inform the IRS if you have non-taxable income such as VA service-connected disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). You can do this through this link.
- If you did not file a tax return and your income exceeds the limits or you are otherwise not qualified, then you will not receive a stimulus check.
I am a U.S. citizen living overseas. Am I eligible for the stimulus check?
- Yes, provided you meet the income eligibility requirements and have a valid Social Security Number.
Is the stimulus check taxable? Will I have to pay it back?
- No and no.
- This is a refundable tax credit. This money is yours to keep and spend as you see fit.
Where Can I Get More Information?
You can read the full Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act bill, which included other provisions, such as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which expands the Family Leave Act.
You can also visit the IRS website for additional information. The IRS does not recommend calling at this time. All updates will be on their website.