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Coronavirus “Stimulus Payments” (Economic Impact Payments) – Who Is Eligible And How Are They Paid?

UPCOMING DEADLINES IN SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER 2020

Economic Impact Payments for Children in Your Household: The IRS announced that people who get Social Security Retirement, Social Security Disability, SSI, Railroad Retirement benefits or income from the Veteran’s Administration will have more time, until September 30, 2020, to submit information in order to get their $500 per child Economic Impact Payments in 2020, if they haven’t already gotten payments for children.  Read this information to learn more. 

Economic Impact Payments if You Didn’t File a Tax Return for 2018 or 2019: People who did not file tax returns for 2018 and 2019, may not have gotten any Economic Impact Payments yet, unless they have provided information to the IRS already.   People who did not file returns for 2018 or 2019, must submit information to the IRS by October 15, 2020. Read this information to learn more.  

Last Updated On: 9/16/2020 9:30:34 AM

Introduction

To help with the coronavirus emergency Congress passed the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act in March 2020.  One major part of this bill provides direct Stimulus Payments to Americans.  The IRS calls these Economic Impact Payments. Individuals can get up to $1,200.  Couples can get up to $2,400.  Children under 17 can get up to $500.

Many people have already gotten their payments.  But some people have not or have not gotten payments for children.  And people have a lot of questions about these payments.  We’ll try to answer them.  We’ll update this information as we learn about changes or clarifications.

Information about these payments changes quickly. For the most up-to-date information, go to the IRS Economic Impact Payment Information Center

WHO GETS THE STIMULUS PAYMENT?

Who Qualifies for The Stimulus Payment?

There are several requirements to qualify:

  • Be either a US citizen or a legal resident of the US, and
  • Have a Social Security Number, and
  • Meet the income limits (see next question), and
  • Are not claimed as the “dependent” of another taxpayer.  

What Are The Income Limits?

For Individuals: 
  • $1,200 to each qualified individual who earns less than $75,000 per year;
  • Decreasing size payment to each individual earning between $75,000 and $99,000 per year;
  • No payment to individuals earning more than $99,000 per year.
For Couples:
  • $2,400 to qualified couples who earn less than $150,000 per year;
  • Decreasing size payments to couples earning between $150,000 to $198,000 per year;
  • No payment to couples earning more than $198,000 per year.
For Children:
  • $500 per child under age 17
  • Who Qualifies As A “Child”?

    Payments will not be made for children age 17 or 18, even if they are living in your home.

    Children who are in college could receive a payment if you did not claim them as dependents on your tax return.  If you DID claim them as dependents, then they are not eligible for a payment. 

    I Have A Child In College.  Can She Get A Stimulus Payment?

    Yes, but only if you do not provide more than half her support and do not claim her as a Dependent on your tax return.  Generally, a full-time college student under the age of 24 is considered a dependent if her parent(s) provide more than half of her support.  If you are not providing more than half of her support, and not claiming her as a dependent on your taxes, she could qualify for a Stimulus Payment as an individual.

    TIMING OF PAYMENTS AND HOW THEY ARE PAID

    Where do the payments come from?

    All payments are sent out by the IRS.  

    First, the IRS used information it already has from tax returns for 2018 Income or for 2019 Income to send out payments.  The IRS has also automatically sent payments to individuals who receive Social Security Retirement, Social Security Disability, SSI, Railroad Retirement benefits or income from the Veteran’s Administration. 

    If you didn’t file taxes for 2018 or 2019, or you don’t receive income from the Social Security Adminitration, Railroad Retirement or the Veteran's Administration, the IRS may not have information about you to send you a payment. Or the IRS may not know about children in your household.  Read the rest of the questions in the section to learn what you need to do.    

    How will I get the payment?

    If the IRS has direct deposit information from you from either:

    • A 2018 or 2019 tax return filing, or 
    •  If you receive automatic electronic payments for Social Security Retirement, Social Security Disability, SSI, Railroad Retirement or income from the Veteran’s Administration,

    your payment should have been deposited into your bank account.  

    The IRS also sent out checks or Economic Impact Payment pre-paid cards to some individuals. 

    Should I have gotten my payment already?

    The IRS started sending out payments in April 2020.  The IRS has continued to send out payments through the spring and summer of 2020.   

    Here are the groups of people who should have already received their payments or should be receiving them soon:

    • People who filed tax returns for 2018 or 2019;
    • People who get Social Security Retirement, Social Security Disability, SSI, Railroad Retirement or income from the Veteran’s Administration, even if they did not file tax returns for either 2018 or 2019 (as long as you aren’t claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return); and
    • People who didn’t file tax returns for 2018 or 2019, but who already provided information to the IRS through their website as a “Non-Filer”. 

    If you are in one of these groups but you haven’t gotten a payment, contact the IRS.   You can check on the status of your Economic Impact Payment on this website by clicking "Get My Payment."

    If you don’t fit into one of these groups, you will likely need to submit additional information to the IRS as soon as possible. Read the next few questions to learn more.   

    I did NOT file a tax return for 2018 or 2019.   I don’t have income from the SSA, VA or Railroad Retirement.  I haven’t gotten a payment yet. Can I still get a payment?

    Yes, you can. If you did not have income from ANY of the government programs listed in the previous question and you did not file a return for 2018 or 2019, you should submit your information to the IRS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, but no later than OCTOBER 15, 2020

    The IRS has set up a special page for “non-filers” to provide information and get an electronic payment.  Go to https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here. Scroll down until you see a button called "Enter your Information."   Click that button and it will take you to another page to enter the necessary information for your household.  

    The deadline for submitting this information through the IRS portal is OCTOBER 15, 2020. Otherwise, you will have to wait until 2021 and you will have to file a 2020 tax return to get your payment.  

    According to the IRS here is the information you will need to submit:

    • 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 You will have to go through several steps, and several different screens. 

    First, you will have to set up an account. After that you can begin to submit information.  Collect all the information listed above.  Get someone to help you if you aren’t comfortable with doing things on-line with computer screens.  Be patient. Be careful. If it takes an hour or two, and some frustration, that’s okay.  You’re going to get money for your time and effort.  Isn’t it worth it?  

    I get income from the SSA, VA or Railroad Retirement.  I got my payment, but it didn’t include a payment for children in my household. Why? Can I do anything?

    This probably happened if you did not file a tax return for 2018 or 2019.  The IRS used the information the government has about you to automatically send you a payment.  But if you didn’t file a tax return they may not have known about any children in your household.  So, you did not automatically get a payment for children.   You can still submit information to the IRS to get payment for children, but you need to ACT QUICKLY!!!!

    People who get Social Security Retirement, Social Security Disability, SSI, Railroad Retirement benefits or income from the Veteran’s Administration and who didn’t file in 2018 or 2019 must provide information about children in their household  to the IRS by September 30, 2020 to get their Economic Impact Payment for children in 2020.   

    Go to https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here. Scroll down until you see a button called "Enter your Information."   Click that button and it will take you to another page to enter the necessary information for your household.  

    Again, the deadline to submit this information on the IRS website is SEPTEMBER 30, 2020.  Otherwise, you will have to wait until 2021 to get your child payment, by filing a 2020 tax return.   

    IMPACT OF STIMULUS CHECKS

    Will Stimulus Payments Be Counted Later Against My Food Stamps or Medicaid or HUD Assistance?

    These payments will not count as “income” or as “assets” during the next twelve months for any of the federal means tested programs.  That includes: 

    • Medicaid
    • SNAP (food stamps)
    • TANF/WV WORKS (monthly cash welfare assistance)
    • Subsidized housing assistance (like Section 8 or Public Housing)
    • SSI
    • Affordable Care Act premium assistance.

    The Stimulus Payment will not affect or reduce your SSI, food stamps, Medicaid, or any other federal benefit program based on income for twelve months after you receive the payment.  If you have not spent the money after a year, it may be considered against your "asset" limit. 

    Will The Stimulus Payment Be Counted As Taxable Income?

    No.

    Will My Stimulus Check Be “Intercepted” To Pay Back Taxes, Student Loans, Or Another Debt To A Federal Or State Agency?

    No, except for past due Child Support payments that have been reported to the US Treasury Department by the WV Bureau for Child Support Enforcement.  Otherwise, your Stimulus Payment will come to you with no “offset” or interruption due to back taxes and other debts.   

    Can the money from my Stimulus Check be taken out of my bank account by a creditor?

    Yes. Once the payment hits your bank account, it is money subject to “attachment” by creditors.  The CARES Act did not protect these funds from court debt collection process.

    At this time money from a CARES Act payment in your bank account could be “attached” by a creditor who has taken ALL of the following steps:

    • Sued you for a debt; AND
    • Won a “judgment” that you owe the money; AND
    • Had a “suggestee execution” issued by the court to your bank to “attach” funds in your bank account.

    Are there things I can do to protect my Stimulus Check money from a creditor?

    There are steps you can take that may help:

    • If the IRS does not already have direct deposit information for you, request that your payment be issued by paper check.
    • If a CARES Act payment is deposited in your account, and you know that you have a court judgment against you, withdraw the funds in cash as soon as possible to hold for rent, groceries, utilities and other necessities during the coronavirus emergency.
    • If an “attachment” has already been placed on your bank account, file a “Personal Property Exemption” under West Virginia law to protect up to $1,100 in the account.  For more information read this article about Personal Property Exemptions. 
    • If the CARES Act funds have already been “attached” by the bank, ask the court to issue an emergency “stay” of the attachment to allow you to use the money for your rent, groceries, utilities and other necessities during the emergency.  

    What if my check gets sent to the wrong place? What if they say I didn’t qualify? Will I even know?

    The U.S. Treasury is sending out letters to each recipient within weeks of issuing the payment. The letters will say if a payment was made, to whom, where, when and how. Follow up with the IRS if you fail to receive payment or a letter within a reasonable timeframe (i.e. within a few weeks of your friends and neighbors getting letters or payments). 

    If you think you qualify, but don't get the payment, contact the IRS. If you wait until the money is distributed before providing your information to the IRS you may be able to get a check at a later date, or you may have to wait until next year to claim the tax credit on your 2020 taxes. 

    Will scammers and fraudsters try to cheat me out of my Stimulus Payment?

    Yes. Liars, cheaters, users and manipulators show up anytime money is being handed out. You’ve got to protect yourself. Be careful and be skeptical.

    Suppose you get information over the internet, phone, email, text message, Twitter, Snapchat or whatever, claiming to be from a government agency or official, and offering you a “deal.” Find that agency’s website (without using any link included in the message you received). Check whether that government agency really is offering you a “deal.” Most of the time, they aren’t. It’s just someone trying to lie to you and scam you out of your money.

    Legal Aid has a separate set of FAQs about “Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Scams.” 

    What if I received a stimulus payment for someone who died?

    If your partner or dependent passed after you filed your taxes together, and you received their stimulus check, the IRS has indicated that you are responsible for paying that money back. Therefore, you could potentially have to pay that portion of what your partner or dependent back to the IRS. At this point, the IRS has not indicated whether it will aggressively attempt to recoup these payments or will attempt to garnish future tax returns.

    If a nursing home or assisted living residence manages the individual’s money, is it permitted to use the Economic Impact Payment to settle a past due account or for other expenses?

    No.  The Economic Impact Payment belongs to the individual resident.  A nursing home or assisted living residence should only use/expend the Economic Impact Payment as directed by the resident.  If the resident is not capable of directing his/her own funds, the resident’s financial representative (financial power of attorney representative or conservator) may direct the use of the Economic Impact Payment in consultation with the resident and in consideration of his/her wishes.  

    What about individuals for whom Social Security has appointed a representative payee?

    The Economic Impact Payment is not a Social Security or SSI benefit.  It belongs to the Social Security or SSI beneficiary.  A representative payee should discuss the Economic Impact Payment with the beneficiary. If the beneficiary wants to use the Economic Impact Payment independently, the representative payee shall make it available for the beneficiary’s use. If the beneficiary asks the representative payee for help in using the Economic Impact Payment in a specific manner or saving it, the representative payee can provide that assistance outside the role of a representative payee.  

    What if an individual believes someone is misusing the Economic Impact Payment belonging to a long-term care resident?

    The intentional misappropriation or misuse of any funds or assets, including the Economic Impact Payments, belonging to a vulnerable adult or facility resident is financial exploitation.  Financial exploitation should be reported to Adult Protective Services by making a referral to Centralized Intake at 1-800-352-6513.  
    This is general legal information. For guidance about your situation, talk to a lawyer.