With the recent passage of an additional, second stimulus check, Americans are wondering when they will get their payments. Lone Star Legal Aid’s Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) prepared answers to the most common stimulus-related questions they are receiving.
What is the stimulus?
Stimulus payments, also called Recovery Rebate or Economic Impact credits, allow eligible Americans the ability to claim an advanced credit on their next year’s tax return now instead of having to wait. The first payment, an advanced 2020 credit that could be claimed on 2019 returns, gave individuals $1200 each and $500 for each eligible child. The second payment is an advanced 2021 credit that can be claimed on your 2020 tax return. That credit is $600 for each eligible person in the household.
Who is eligible?
U.S. citizens and permanent residents over the age of 17 will receive $600 for each eligible person in their household.Permanent residents must have a work-eligible Social Security number with adjusted gross income (AGI) below a certain amount. AGI is what you made before taxes were taken but minus certain expenses, like a deduction for self-employment tax or student loans. Many people do not have these extra expenses, and therefore their gross income is equal to their AGI.
The stimulus payments are available only to those with income under a certain amount.
- $75,000 for individuals
- $112,500 for the head of household filers and
- $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns
Taxpayers will receive a reduced payment if their AGI is between:
- $75,000 and $87,000 if their filing status was single or married filing separately
- $112,500 and $124,500 for the head of household
- $150,000 and $174,000 if their filing status was married filing jointly
*The amount of the reduced payment will be based upon the taxpayer’s specific adjusted gross income.
Many people have already received their second stimulus payments. This is because the IRS is using your information from your 2019 return. You can check the status of your payment by going to the IRS website https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment The IRS will use the same direct deposit information from your 2019 return. If you received your first payment by check or IRS issued debit card, you will receive your second by one of those methods.
Whenever advanced credits are received, a person must file their tax return the next year and report the amount of the credit. Therefore, anyone who got their payment last year (with some exceptions) must file their 2020 return to show how much they received in 2019. If they received a partial credit, and their financial situation has changed, they may receive an additional payment from the first stimulus. Anyone who does not receive their payment who is otherwise eligible will have to file a 2020 return to claim the second $600 stimulus payment.
What if I didn’t I didn’t file a 2019 tax return?
If a person hasn’t filed a 2019 return, they won’t get the credit until they file for 2020. Since the first stimulus payment could be claimed on 2019 or 2020 returns, filing a 2020 return may help you get an additional refund from the first stimulus.
What if I don’t have a filing obligation because I’m on social security or veteran affairs benefits?
Individuals who receive Social Security, SSI, Railroad Retirement, disability or veterans’ benefits as well as taxpayers who do not make enough money to normally have to file a tax return will receive a payment. This also includes those who have no income.You do not need to take action if you’ve received the first credit or registered with the non-filer portal. You also do not have to file 2020 returns to reconcile. If you started getting those benefits in 2020, you may need to file. You should check your payment status on the IRS website.
Are there any other differences from the first stimulus payment?
- The second payments cannot be garnished for any state or federal debts, including child support. This means that even if you owe child support, you will receive your second stimulus payment.
- Incarcerated individuals are eligible.
- Mixed citizenship status households are eligible to receive payments for the eligible persons. In order to receive payment, there must be at least one eligible parent. If the only family member deemed eligible is the child, the IRS will not issue payment.
- You can check on the status of their stimulus on the IRS website. If you receive a message that saying “Payment Status #2 – not available,” you are not eligible for the second economic impact payments. This may happen even if you got the first stimulus without any issues. If you are sure you meet eligibility guidelines, you must file a 2020 return.
- If you used tax preparation software or opted to pay the fees using your refund, you are likely to run into issues. The refund is issued to the tax prep company and then forwarded to the taxpayer. While TurboTax has stated it will forward the funds, other tax prep companies will return the refund to the IRS. In this case, you will need to file a 2020 return to get your payment.
- The IRS will issue debit cards or checks to those who don’t have direct deposit available. They will distribute funds using a different card than the initial payment in March and April of 2020. Your stimulus payment debit card will come in a white envelope that prominently displays the U.S. Department of the Treasury seal and includes “Economic Impact Payment Card” in the return address. The envelope also states that it contains “important information about the Economic Impact Payment.”
**The card itself will say “Visa” on the front and “MetaBank” (the issuing bank) on the back. (See photo below.)
- The non-filer portal is not available this year. If you included your information for the first payment, the IRS will use your information. If you didn’t, you will need to file a tax return.
- A person must have been alive as of January 1, 2020 to qualify for the second payment.
If you have further questions or are in need of legal help, you can apply for free help with the LITC by calling 1-800-733-8394 or online here.
For additional information, visit the IRS Second EIP FAQ page.
This blog post was drafted by Lone Star Legal Aid’s Karyna Lopez, Managing Attorney and Clinic Director of the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic.
Lone Star Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm focused on advocacy on behalf of low-income and underserved populations. Lone Star Legal Aid serves millions of people at 125% of federal poverty guidelines that reside in 72 counties in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions of Texas, and 4 counties of southwest Arkansas. Lone Star Legal Aid focuses its resources on maintaining, enhancing, and protecting income and economic stability; preserving housing; improving outcomes for children; establishing and sustaining family safety and stability, health and well‐being; and assisting populations with special vulnerabilities, including those who have disabilities, or who are elderly, homeless, or have limited English language skills. To learn more about Lone Star Legal Aid, visit our website at http://www.lonestarlegal.org.
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