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Economic Impact Payments: What you need to know



On March 30, 2020, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service announced that distribution of economic impact payments will begin in the next three weeks and will be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people. However, some seniors and others who typically do not file returns may need to submit a simple tax return to receive the stimulus payment.

Q: Are criminals already trying to steal your economic impact payment?
A: Yes. The IRS and its Criminal Investigation Division have seen a wave of new and evolving phishing schemes against taxpayers. The IRS offers the following information and tips to spot a scam and understand how the COVID-19 related economic impact payments will be issued.

  • The IRS will deposit your payment into the direct deposit account you previously provided on your tax return (or, in the alternative, send you a paper check).
  • The IRS will NOT call and ask you to verify your payment details. Do NOT give your bank account, debit account, or PayPal account information to anyone - even if someone claims it’s necessary to get your check. It’s a scam.
  • If you receive a call, do NOT engage with scammers, even if you want to tell them that you know it’s a scam. Just hang up.
  • If you receive texts or emails claiming that you can get your money faster by sending personal identifying information or clicking on links, delete these texts and emails. Do NOT click on any links in those texts or emails.
  • Reports are swirling about bogus checks. If you receive a “check” in the mail now, it’s a scam. It will take the Treasury a few more weeks to mail out the COVID-19 economic impact payments. If you receive a “check” for an odd amount (especially one with cents), or a check that requires you to verify the check online or by calling a number, it’s a scam.
  • Remember, the federal government will not ask you to pay anything up front to get a legitimate benefit. No fees. No charges. Anyone who asks for an up-front payment for a promised benefit is a scammer.

Q: Who is eligible for the economic impact payment?
A: Tax filers with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns will receive the full payment. For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000/$150,000 thresholds. Single filers with income exceeding $99,000 and $198,000 for joint filers with no children are not eligible.

Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 will automatically receive an economic impact payment of up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples. Parents also receive $500 for each qualifying child.

Q: How will the IRS know where to send my payment?
A: The vast majority of people do not need to take any action. The IRS will calculate and automatically send the economic impact payment to those eligible.

For people who have already filed their 2019 tax returns, the IRS will use this information to calculate the payment amount. For those who have not yet filed their return for 2019, the IRS will use information from their 2018 tax filing to calculate the payment. The economic impact payment will be deposited directly into the same banking account reflected on the return filed.

Q: The IRS does not have my direct deposit information. What can I do?
A: In the coming weeks, Treasury plans to develop a web-based portal for individuals to provide their banking information to the IRS online, so that individuals can receive payments immediately as opposed to checks in the mail.

Q: I am not typically required to file a tax return. Can I still receive my payment?
A: Yes. People who typically do not file a tax return (and do not receive social security) will need to file a simple tax return to receive an economic impact payment. Low-income taxpayers, senior citizens, some veterans and individuals with disabilities who are otherwise not required to file a tax return will not owe tax. If you receive social security, see the next question.

Q: I’m on social security and didn’t file a tax return. Will I automatically receive economic impact payments?
A: Yes. On April 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service announced that Social Security beneficiaries who are not typically required to file tax returns will not need to file an abbreviated tax return to receive an Economic Impact Payment. Instead, payments will be automatically deposited into their bank accounts using the information on their Form SSA-1099 and Form RRB-1099. Recipients will receive these payments as a direct deposit or by paper check, just as they would normally receive their benefits.

Q: How can I file the tax return needed to receive my economic impact payment?
A: IRS.gov/coronavirus will soon provide information instructing people in these groups on how to file a 2019 tax return with simple, but necessary, information including their filing status, number of dependents and direct deposit bank account information. Because many have criticized this requirement to file a tax return, TaxMe will be monitoring developments for alternatives.

Q: I have not filed my tax return for 2018 or 2019. Can I still receive an economic impact payment?
A: Yes. The IRS urges anyone with a tax filing obligation who has not yet filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019 to file as soon as they can to receive an economic impact payment. Taxpayers should include direct deposit banking information on the return.

Q: : I need to file a tax return. How long are the economic impact payments available?
A: For those concerned about visiting a tax professional or local community organization in person to get help with a tax return, these economic impact payments will be available throughout the rest of 2020. For additional information visit IRS.gov/coronavirus