The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has begun making stimulus payments to Americans. This is part of the Trump administration’s plan to revive an economy battered by the mass layoffs and shuttered businesses that have resulted from the coronavirus pandemic.
The stimulus payments are part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was signed into law by President Trump on March 27. While many Americans understand they have money coming, some don’t know how much, what their eligibility is based on or when they’ll get it.
If you’re one of the many Americans who are in the dark about how the CARES Act will affect them, here’s what you need to know and how to track your stimulus check.
How much money am I getting?
The stimulus payments being given to Americans are not one-size-fits-all; the amounts vary by individual or family. They are based on 2019 tax returns, unless those haven’t been filed yet. In those cases, the payments are based on 2018 tax returns.
Individuals with incomes up to $75,000 (based on annual adjustable gross income, or AGI) will get the full relief check of $1,200. Married couples receive $2,400 as long as their combined AGI doesn’t top $150,000. Individuals and couples are also eligible to receive an additional $500 payment per child under age 17.
“Single taxpayers with an AGI above $75,000 but less than $99,000 will still receive a stimulus check, but it will be reduced by $5 for every $100 above $75,000,” says Jasmine Young, a certified public accountant and certified fraud examiner with Southern Tax Preparation & Services in Atlanta. “The stimulus payment completely phases out for single taxpayers with AGIs of $99,000 and above.”
Young notes that head-of-household taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of $132,500 and above would not receive any stimulus funds. Taxpayers who are filing jointly and have adjusted gross incomes of $198,000 and up are also out of luck and will not receive a payment. (If you’re currently out of work, here’s how to apply for unemployment benefits.)
When will your stimulus check arrive?
The stimulus payments are being distributed to taxpayers either by direct deposit or by paper checks arriving by mail. If you’ve been paying your taxes via direct deposit, the IRS should already have your banking information on file and will make the payment directly to your bank account. For those receiving their stimulus money this way, payments have already begun.
Those receiving payments by mail will have to wait a little longer. In some cases, much longer.
Paper checks will start being mailed out to taxpayers on April 24, but only for those earning between $0 and $10,000. Those earning between $10,001 and $20,000 will have their checks mailed to them one week later, on May 1, and every subsequent week, checks will be mailed out to those earning $10,000 more than those paid the week previous. The last payment is scheduled to go out on Sept. 11.
How do I check the status of my stimulus payment?
Those who aren’t lucky enough to be paid first will be anxious to know when their money is scheduled to arrive. For those taxpayers, you can take the following steps:
- Visit the “Get My Payment” page that the IRS has set up on its website.
- To monitor the status of your payment and track it, click (or tap) on the blue “Get My Payment” button.
- You’ll be taken to a page about authorized use; go ahead and click (or tap) OK.
- On the Get My Payment page, enter your Social Security number (or taxpayer ID number), your date of birth and your address. When finished, click (or tap) the continue button.
- This leads to a payment status page, which informs you of the status of your payment and when it can be expected. (You may also be told that the service cannot determine your status.)
If the IRS doesn’t have your banking information and you would like to receive your payment by direct deposit instead of a paper check, the site allows users to give that information and set up a direct deposit payment. According to Southern Tax Preparation & Services’ Young, if you want to expedite your payment and get it via direct deposit, the time to do that is now — and running out fast.
“Receipt of the payment can be expedited by choosing the direct deposit method as checks aren’t expected to be mailed until April 24, 2020,” she says.