Frequently Asked Questions About The CARES Act

On March 27 the President signed the CARES Act with lots of provisions to help workers, business owners and the economy.  Here’s the part everyone wants to know about.  Stimulus checks!  IRS will begin to send out up to $1200 apiece to many taxpayers over the next few months.  Here’s what you need to know.

How do I know if I’ll get a check?

Adjusted gross income must be below $75,000 for individuals, $112,500 for head of household filing status, and $150,000 for married filing joint to qualify for the full amount.  People with incomes above these amounts will see reduced or no payments.  To see your adjusted gross income, look at line 8b on your 2019 1040 form.

I haven’t filed my 2019 return yet!

Did you file in 2018?  IRS will look at that return if you haven’t filed 2019 yet.  Check your adjusted gross income on line 7 of your 2018 return.

I was told I don’t have to file because I only get social security.  Do I have to file a return now?

If you haven’t filed a return for 2018 or 2019, IRS will look at their records to see who received social security and will still send you a check.

How much will it be?

If your income was under the limits, you will receive $1200, $2400 if you are filing a married filing joint return. If you claim dependent children under the age of 17 on your return, you will receive $500 for each of them.

What if my income is over $75,000 or $150,000?  Am I entirely out of luck?

The checks will phase out between $75,000 and $100,000 of income, double that for married couples.  If your income is in the phase out range, you will still receive a reduced check.  If your income is over the phase out range, you will not receive a payment at this time.

That’s not fair!  I retired at the end of 2019, so my income now is way lower!

If you don’t qualify for a payment now, you still have another chance.  There will be a place on your 2020 tax return to indicate that you didn’t receive a payment.  If you qualify in 2020 with lower income, you’ll receive it then.

My ex and I switch off claiming our child.  This was his year to claim her, does that mean he gets the payment and I’m out of luck?

Your ex will get the payment this year.  Next year you will file your tax return and claim your child, and you will get the extra money in your refund.

My parents claimed me as a dependent.  Will I get a check?

No.  Dependents don’t qualify to receive this payment.

What if my 2019 income is very low and my 2020 income is much higher?  Will I have to pay back the money I receive?

No.  Even if you no longer qualify when you file your return, the money does not have to be paid back.

I owe the IRS for back taxes and they take my refund every year.  Will they take this money too?

No.  The purpose of these payments is to get money into your hands immediately.  This money will not be seized to pay back taxes.

What about child support?  

IRS has indicated that delinquent child support is the one thing that will cause your payment to be taken.

What about other garnishments?

No.  The purpose of these payments is to get money into your hands immediately. 

I don’t have a valid social security number.  Will I still get a payment?

No.  Only people with valid social security numbers will receive this payment.

When will it come and how will I get it?

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has directed IRS to send the payments out immediately.  Of course, this is the federal government, and these things take time.  Last time the government sent out stimulus payments, it took several months to send them all.  They went out in order of the last two digits of social security numbers.  IRS has indicated, that if you set up direct deposit for a refund on your 2018 or 2019 return, it will use that same account to get the money to you faster.  If you have not set up direct deposit in the last two years, your check will be mailed to the address the IRS has on file for you. If you have moved, file a change of address form as soon as possible.

What if I have closed my bank account since I last filed my return?

IRS will attempt to deposit money into the account that is closed.  When it doesn’t work, they will mail the check to your last known address.

Scam alert:  Already we’re hearing about phone calls pretending to be from the IRS wanting to know bank account information for direct deposit.  We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again.  THE IRS WILL NOT CALL YOU AND COLLECT INFORMATION OVER THE PHONE!  The only communication you will have from them is a letter, about 15 days after you receive your payment, letting you know that it’s been sent.