Answering your questions on the federal stimulus payments to address the coronavirus emergency

·11 min read

McClatchy reporter David Lightman took questions from readers this week about the federal government’s stimulus payments.

The full payments of $1,200 per adult and $500 per child are available to individuals who earned an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less and couples who made $150,000 or less as reported on their 2018 or 2019 tax return, whichever was last filed.

If you didn’t file a return, or have a question about payments, the Internal Revenue Service Wednesday launched Get My Payment to help.

Those payments, which began heading to most bank accounts Wednesday, were the subject of these sorts of questions:

Q. We filed taxes jointly. Direct deposit goes to my bank account. Wife has her own bank account. Will there be a problem seeing as we have our own separate bank accounts?

A. If the refunds were deposited in each account, that’s where the stimulus payments are likely to end up. The IRS says it will deposit the funds in whichever account it has on file. Here are some sites that could provide more information: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/economic-impact-payments-what-you-need-to-know or https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article241973816.html

Q. I received the $1,200 payment yesterday, yet I am well above the income level cap (>$100k AGI) in both my 2018 and 2019 fed tax filings. Anything I should do to correct this error? Will it be rectified when I file for 2020? Thanks!

A. I would call (a) a tax professional and/or (b) the IRS. If none of that works, get in touch with your local congressman. Here’s the list: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/CA.

Q. (Our previous bank account has closed.) How would we change the information for our stimulus payment with the IRS – or do we wait for paper checks?

A. You can report a new bank account to the IRS via their new site, Get My Payment, which is slated to go on line later this week. Here’s more information: https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm972

Or you can wait for a paper check. They’re supposed to start mailing them out the last week in April. They’ll start with lowest income earners, and eventually mail checks out to all who are qualified. Last checks will probably go out in September. For more information: https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article241973816.html or https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/economic-impact-payments-what-you-need-to-know

Q. What if we don’t receive the $500 per kid? How do we go about getting the right amount?

A. Contact a tax professional and/or the IRS. You might also get in touch with your local congressman or senator. Here’s a list: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/CA

Q. What if I have a new child in 2019 who was not on my 2018 taxes? How will they know?

A. The nonpartisan Tax Foundation has an answer: ”What if I had a baby in 2019 or earlier this year and haven’t filed a return?”If a taxpayer has not already filed a 2019 return with the name and Social Security Number (SSN) of the eligible dependent being claimed, the filer will not receive credit for those dependents born after they filed their 2018 return.

‘However, the taxpayer may claim a $500 credit for each eligible child on their 2020 return.”Here’s their complete Q and A: https://taxfoundation.org/federal-coronavirus-relief-bill-cares-act/#6

Our take: https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article241802226.htmlAnd a little late, but congratulations on the new child..

Q. My 2018 tax return is still on extension. My 2019 return is not yet filed. I am not exempt from filing, it’s just not done yet. Do you know if that will prohibit payment?

A. That’s one for a tax professional.

Q. If you paid taxes via a direct debit to the IRS (as in, they took your taxes directly from your checking account), do you still have to submit banking info?

A. Best to double check with your bank, a tax professional or the IRS. Here’s the guidance from the IRS: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/economic-impact-payments-what-you-need-to-know

Q. If my child (is) 18 years old can she get the $1,200 stimulus payment?

A. Not if he/she is a dependent. The $500 child payment is available only to children dependents 16 and younger. Here’s the take from the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, which I always find helpful: ”Which dependents qualify for a rebate?”

The CARES Act uses the Child Tax Credit (CTC) eligibility standards. All qualifying children who are under age 17 who have not provided for more than half of their own expenses and lived with the taxpayer for more than six months are eligible. This means that adult dependents, such as college students aged 17 and over, and elderly dependents do not qualify for the $500 rebate. Adult dependents do not qualify for their own rebate either.”

For more from them: https://taxfoundation.org/federal-coronavirus-relief-bill-cares-act/#6 Our take: https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article241802226.htmlT

Q. I went though H&R Block and my tax return was put on a emailed card. How will I get my payment?

A. If the IRS has your bank account on file, it should show up there. If not, you can wait for a check in the mail, or later this week go to the new web site, Get My Payment, which should allow you to give the IRS that account information.

For more information: https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article241973816.html or https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm972t

Q. Will you receive a stimulus payment if you owe back taxes and are on a payment plan?

A. Good question, and I do not know. Nor can I find a good answer on any of the IRS sites. You should try getting in touch with the IRS, or perhaps more important, a tax professional. If none of that works, call or email your congressman. If you’re not sure of who that might be, this can help:https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/CA

Q. I am on Social Security with a very strict budget. What date should I expect my stimulus in my direct deposit account?

A. Within the next two weeks, assuming you qualify and have your direct deposit information on file (if you get your Social Security that way, it’s on file). Here’s what Treasury says: ”Treasury expects a large majority of eligible Americans will receive Economic Impact Payments within the next two weeks. Non-filers can get their payment faster by using the ‘Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here’ web portal and entering their bank account information.

Also, eligible Social Security beneficiaries and railroad retirement recipients who did not file a tax return in 2018 and 2019 will be automatically sent their economic impact payments, primarily electronically.”

For more information:https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article241973816.html OR https://home.treasury.gov/index.php/news/press-releases/sm975

Q. Will I receive a stimulus check if I do not file taxes?

A. If you’re eligible under the income guidelines, yes. You’ll find the email site here: https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article241973816.html or here: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here.

Q. My 2018 AGI was much higher than my 2019 AGI and the IRS used my 2018 return for stimulus check amount calculation as I filed my 2019 return on 4/4/20. The stimulus check difference was ~$2,000. Do I have any recourse to recoup that $2,000 difference?

A. Call a tax professional. I know that if you earn less in 2020 you could get a credit on the return you file next year, so that logic may also apply in your case.

Q. My mom is on SSI and did not file a tax return last year. Does she get a stimulus check? Does she need to submit a form? Her SSI checks gets directly deposited into her bank account. If she gets a stimulus check, will it be mailed to her or will the same bank information be used to direct deposit this as well?

A. Here’s the Tax Foundation’s advice: If a taxpayer received Supplemental Security Income (SSI) but not Social Security benefits and did not file for taxes in 2018 or 2019, the IRS recommends they file as soon as possible to ensure they receive the rebate.

Q. This stimulus package has left me out in the cold. My wife and I are both retired, me in 2017 and her in 2019. We took a withdrawal from our IRA last year 2019. This was to help us refinance our house to lower our payment and pay off some bills so my wife could retire. This withdrawal put us over the maximum income allowed to be eligible for the stimulus help. This was money I earned 5-30 years ago. 2018 income or any other year before we would of been eligible.

I drive a little for Uber just to make ends meet, I am 65 years old. If some people are able to use 2018 returns and some people 2019 returns I think everyone should be given the option of using either year. Originally they were talking of using 2018 income which I knew we would of qualified, then it came out if you had already filed for 2019 they would use that. Unfortunately I guess we filed too early.

A. Here’s a response from Garrett Watson at the Tax Foundation: “This individual is correct that retirement withdrawals end up in their AGI calculation and made them ineligible for an advance rebate based on their 2019 income. However, if they have a lower AGI in 2020 that would make them eligible for a rebate using this year’s income, they will receive a credit on their 2020 tax return next spring for that amount. So while they may have to wait to claim their credit until next year, they won’t miss out entirely depending on what their 2020 AGI is.”

Q. I filed my 2019 taxes and received my refund. I filed “married, filing jointly.” My wife was in a nursing home but I received a form SSA-1099 for her from Social Security. My wife passed away on August 13, 2019. As mentioned earlier because of the SSA-1099 I filed married, filing jointly. Should I receive a single stimulus check of $1,200.00 or a double check of $2,400.00? If only entitled to the lesser amount, and receive the higher amount, how should I handle this?

A. From Watson: “The IRS would use their filing status and AGI for 2019, so we would expect that they would receive $2,400. The IRS hasn’t announced any adjustments based on people passing away, so I would not expect any downward adjustment when he receives the stimulus. On his 2020 tax return, the IRS would not require him to pay the difference back, either. I would not expect any legal problems with keeping the second half of the rebate if they were married, but of course I’d recommend checking in with legal counsel if there are any concerns about a specific legal situation.”

Q. I was able to claim my child on 2018 taxes, but for 2019 taxes, I can no longer claim her as a dependent. She did not file a return for 2019 taxes due to income amount. Is she eligible to receive the $1,200 stimulus check if nobody claims her as a dependent?

A. From Watson: “If she was not claimed as or eligible to be claimed as a dependent in 2019, she would be eligible for a rebate. She should submit information to the IRS as a non-filer to ensure the IRS knows where to send the rebate.”

Q. I filed a 2019 return because I was told that I had to prove my income for the ACA (Affordable Care Act). But since I didn’t have a refund or a payment, I did not put in my banking information for direct deposit. I am on Social Security with a direct deposit. But I am concerned that because I filed a return for 2019 with no direct deposit, somehow this all is going to be misinterpreted by the I.R.S. and I won’t get my stimulus check direct deposited. I went on the IRS site and tried to add my banking info in the “If you filed in 2019” but I couldn’t get past the section that asked did I owe money or did I receive a refund. I did neither, but there was no other option.

A. My understanding is that since your Social Security payment is direct deposited, your stimulus payment will be also. I would say that if by the end of next week you haven’t seen the stimulus payment, contact the IRS. Take a look at this Treasury website...the answer to the second question, involving who will get automatic payments, should provide an answer..https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here

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