UPDATE: Several people have been asking us what to do about specific situations. We strongly recommend contacting the IRS or your tax preparer to get guidance on your particular situation if it is not mentioned here. We cannot give out tax or financial advice.
As the coronavirus crisis ravages the U.S. economy, millions of Americans are about to receive help from Congress in the form of direct cash payments.
President Donald Trump signed into law a massive $2 trillion emergency economic package on Friday that includes direct cash payments and unemployment benefits, among other provisions, for people across the country.
Here are some questions and answers about who qualifies for cash from the federal government:
Q: How much will I get?
Depends on how much you make.
If you made less than $75,000 in 2019, you will be eligible for the full payment of $1,200. Couples who filed jointly and made less than $150,000 will get $2,400. An individual who filed as “head of household” and earned $112,500 or less gets $1,200. If you’re a family of four or more, you’ll be eligible for a maximum of $3,400.
Q: When is the money coming?
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said last week the checks will be sent out “within three weeks” to people for whom the IRS has information.
Q: Where do I sign up?
You don’t. The payments will be automatic for people who have filed a tax return or gotten Social Security benefits recently. The IRS asks people not to call with questions, but to keep checking irs.gov/coronavirus.
Q: How will the money be sent?
If you’ve gotten a tax refund in 2018 or 2019 by direct deposit, that’s where the money will be sent. If not, the IRS can mail a check to your last known address.
Q: How does the government calculate how much I earned?
The checks will automatically be based on your 2019 return. If you haven’t filed your 2019 taxes yet, it’ll be based on your 2018 return.
Q: I’m on Social Security, or a disabled vet. Do I qualify?
Yes. Even if you didn’t file a tax return for 2018 or 2019 or pay taxes in those years.
Q: I’m not an American citizen. Do I qualify?
Yes. As long as you’re living and working in the U.S. with a valid Social Security number.
Q: Are the cash payments taxable?
Q: What if I’m homeless or recently got out of prison?
As long as you have a Social Security number, you should be eligible to apply for the relief payments under the new system created by the IRS.
Q: I owe back taxes.
Your payment won’t be affected if you owe past due state or federal taxes.
Q: I’m behind on child support payments. Does that affect me?
The IRS may reduce the amount you receive if you have past due child support payments.
More information can be found on the IRS’s website at irs.gov/coronavirus.