Coronavirus stimulus money: your most pressing questions answered

The $2 trillion economic recovery package is now law, which means help could be on the way for Americans suffering as the coronavirus sweeps across the country. Here are some answers to how the relief package might benefit you.

Will I get a check?

Taxpayers earning $75,000 or less will receive the full $1,200, and the check amount will decrease $5 for every $100 up to $99,000. Taxpayers who are married filing jointly will receive $2,400 if they earn $150,000 or less, and the check amount will decrease $5 for every $100 up to $198,000. Single heads of households will qualify for the $1200 if they earn $112,500 or less, and the check amount will decrease $5 for every $100 up to $146,500.

I receive Social Security or disability payments. Will I get a check?

Any taxpayer is eligible, regardless of what type of benefit they receive from the Social Security Administration, as long as they meet the income requirements.

I haven’t filed my taxes in the last couple of years. Do I qualify? 

There’s no clear answer as to how the government will find individuals who have not filed taxes or do not claim Social Security yet, experts said.

Is the government using my 2018 or 2019 tax return?

The government will first look at your 2019 return to determine your eligibility. If you have not filed your 2019 return, they will look at your 2018 tax return.

Is the amount I receive based on my total income?

The amount you receive will be calculated based on your adjusted gross income, not your total income. For 2018, your adjusted gross income (AGI) can be found on page 2, line 7 of Form 1040. Your AGI for the tax year 2019 is on Line 8b on Form 1040

When will checks arrive?

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin wants the checks disbursement to begin April 6. But experts estimate it could take as long as four months to arrive in the mail. The Washington Post reminded readers that the last time something like this happened — during the 2008 financial crisis — the entire process “took about eight weeks for the final people to receive their checks.”

Will I have to apply to receive a payment?

No. If the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) already has your bank account information, it will transfer the money to you via direct deposit based on the recent income-tax figures it already has. Or they will mail the check to the address on your tax return.

 What if I don’t have the same bank account now? 

The deposit will not go through. If this happens, the IRS will mail your check to the address on your most recent tax return.

I owe money to the government. Will I still get a check?

The bill temporarily suspends nearly all efforts to garnish tax refunds to repay debts, including those to the IRS, itself. But this waiver may not apply to people who are behind on child support.

How many payments will there be?

Just one. Future legislative bills could order additional payments, though.

Will I have to provide financial information over the phone?

The Treasury Department says that no one from the agency will reach out to you by phone offering stimulus payments in exchange for financial information or fees. If you receive such a call, it should be reported as a scam to the FBI. You will not have to pay anything in order to receive a stimulus payment.

What if my child’s school or daycare shut down?

If you rely on a school, a daycare or another facility to care for a child, elderly parent or another household member so that you can work — and that facility has been shut down because of coronavirus — you are eligible.

What if I’ve been advised to quarantine myself because of exposure to coronavirus?

People who must self-quarantine are covered. The legislation also says that individuals who are unable to get to work because of a quarantine imposed as a result of the outbreak are eligible.

UNEMPLOYED

I’ve lost my job because of the outbreak. Now what?

You will seek your unemployment benefits – which average about $400 – increased by $600 for four months. And if you are still unemployed after state benefits end, you could get an additional 13 weeks of help.