Federal Relief Payments to Individuals: File Your Income Tax Paperwork

The CARES Act authorized direct payments—called Economic Impact Payments—to American citizens to aid economic recovery in response to COVID-19, but many are wondering if they qualify for a stimulus payment, how much they will receive, and how they will receive the payment. For additional questions, click here

Who is eligible for an Economic Impact Payment? 

Individuals with a social security number who have filed income taxes for 2018 or 2019 are eligible, as well as some individuals who are not normally required to file income taxes, such as many social security recipients. The Department of Treasury is working with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to determine individuals’ eligibility for Economic Income Payments. Everyone who is required to file income taxes must have done so for tax years 2018 or 2019 to receive an Economic Impact Payment. The IRS will use the most recent of those two to determine how much money an individual should receive. 

How much will individuals receive? 

How much an individual will receive in an Economic Impact Payment depends on how much they made in their most recent tax filing year. Individual tax filers who have filed their 2018 or 2019 taxes and make less than $75,000 per year will receive the full payment of $1,200 per individual. Married couples who filed jointly and make less than $150,000 annually will receive a full payment of $2,400. Families will receive $500 per child. Most Americans are in these income ranges. 

For individuals who make between $75,000 and $99,000, or couples who make between $150,000 and $198,000, the payment will be reduced by $5 for every additional $100 earned annually over the lower threshold. Essentially, the more one makes, the less they will receive. Individuals making more than $99,000 and couples making over $198,000 are not eligible to receive Economic Impact Payments. 

What if I am not normally required to file taxes?

Individuals who live on social security income will automatically receive the Economic Impact Payment, provided their income does not exceed the high threshold. Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin said, “Social Security recipients who are not typically required to file a tax return do not need to take an action, and will receive their payment directly to their bank account.” 

Individuals whose annual income is below the income tax standard deduction are also not normally required to file income taxes and therefore may not have direct deposit information on file with the IRS. That could mean they have to wait for a paper check, which might take a long time. In order to speed up the delivery of payments to low-income individuals, the IRS has worked with TurboTax to set up a web portal, called Stimulus Registration, where people can submit their direct deposit information. 

How will I receive my payment?

Those who have set up direct deposit with the IRS will likely be among the first to receive a payment. Others will have to wait for a paper check in the mail, but that could take significantly longer—weeks or possibly even months. If you have not filed your 2019 taxes and are required to do so, it is recommended that you file as soon as possible and set up direct deposit into your bank account. The IRS and Treasury are working on a web portal where individuals can link their bank account information for direct deposit, but that has not yet been announced. Stay tuned to the IRS website for regular updates. According to Business Insider, this is not the same thing as the TurboTax Stimulus Registration mentioned previously.