Millions of Americans have received a stimulus check in light of the coronavirus pandemic with the intent to aid in financial relief. But millions more are still waiting for one, while there is a large number of cases where residents just won't get one at all. Amid unemployment rates at a record high alongside vast swaths of the economy inactive for the foreseeable future, Americans need all the help they can get right now. It is helpful to know why a stimulus check may not be coming your way.
The so-called "stimulus check" many people are getting right now is officially called an Economic Impact Payment by the U.S. government. It is not meant to stimulate the economy to get active again, but rather to offset the burden of unemployment and shuttered businesses around the world. Many people need the relief these checks are promising, but some of the people who need it most may not get it at all. In some cases, they will at least have to jump through some hoops before they can get paid.
For most people who have not gotten their Economic Impact Payment yet, it may just be a matter of waiting and confusion. The U.S. Congress tasked the IRS with distributing the payments by the same methods they handed out 2018 and 2019 tax returns. Those that had up-to-date direct deposit information on hand in those years have likely already gotten paid, and some Americans may have been able to add new banking information to the IRS Get My Payment app to do the same. However, for those waiting for paper checks, it may take weeks or even months to get the check.
Adding to the frustration, checking the status of a payment and finding out exactly where it is can be difficult. The IRS rushed to set up the Get My Payment app for Americans, but in the FAQ section of the site, they note that it is only updated once per day at most. People used to live looks at their checking account on a corporate banking app may be disappointed by the limited power of the IRS' site, but it does not mean that their check isn't coming. Some may be a little uncertain even up to the day the check shows up in their mailbox.
Others may not be so lucky, and for them, it will be better to know sooner rather than later. Here are the reasons why your Economic Impact Payment might not be coming at all.
The Economic Impact Payments are only guaranteed to Americans who are not claimed as dependents. For adults who are claimed as dependents on someone else's taxes, no check is coming, nor is an added payment in the claimer's check.
Those who claimed a child as a dependent on their most recent tax return will get a $500 credit added to their stimulus check. However, a child aged 17 years or older do not qualify for that bonus, even if they are a full-time student and are living at home. The same goes for adults with disabilities who need full-time care, and even parents or other elderly relatives who may no longer be working. Congress is looking to remedy this oversight in the next coronavirus relief bill if there is one.
No Tax Return
Anyone who has not filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019 will not have a stimulus check coming — at least not any time soon. The IRS is basing the payments on the information from taxes in the last two years, so if you are extremely behind on this paperwork, now is the time to get caught up. The 2019 tax filing deadline has been extended into July.
Some Americans are not required to file tax returns, in most cases because they do not make enough money to do so. In those cases, stimulus checks are still available. They will simply need to fill out the IRS' new "non-filers" form, located here.
No Social Security Number
Economic Impact Payments are not reserved only for American citizens — they are being sent to long-term residents as well, as long as they have a valid U.S. Social Security number. However, many long-term residents with green cards or certain visas will not qualify for a stimulus check, and sadly cannot get one.
There is an added complication here for couples who file taxes jointly. In the case of a couple where one person has a Social Security number and other doesn't, both will be denied their stimulus check. According to a report by The Motley Fool, this may include over 10 million American families.
Some people may not receive a stimulus check due to outdated information in their 2018 and 2019 taxes. For example, anyone who both closed a bank account and moved since the last time they filed taxes could be waiting a long time to get paid. If the direct deposit information the IRS has is not valid, the money will be bounced back and redistributed by a paper check. However, if the last mailing address they have on file is incorrect too, Americans are at the mercy of the post office to determine your new address and forward the check there.
In this case, Americans will have to do some grappling with the Get My Payment app in order to get their updated information on file. This may include a slight leap of faith that the information was accepted and processed, even if the site's interface takes some time to make it clear. Still, it may not be a bad idea to contact former landlords, neighbors, or the new residents of your old home and ask that any mail be forwarded to you, just in case.
Social Security or Railroad Retirement Benefits
Most recipients of Social Security or railroad retirements benefits will still get a coronavirus stimulus check, without even filling out the "non-filers" form. However, those who just began receiving those benefits in 2020 are a little different. The IRS does not yet have information from your benefits provider, so the process will not be automated.
For those in this situation, the IRS will still send a stimulus check as long as you fill out the non-filers form as soon as possible. If you know someone in this obscure scenario, be sure to spread the word, as it is one of the finer points of this unprecedented situation.
Some Americans may be eagerly awaiting a stimulus check without realizing that they simply make too much money to receive one. The CARES Act provided strict guidelines for who needs the relief money, setting the cap for individuals at $99,000 per year.
A person who files taxes on their own as an individual will receive a $1,200 stimulus check if their annual income is $75,000 or less. For every $100 in their annual income beyond that, their stimulus check will be reduced by $5 — so, a person whose annual income in 2019 was $75,100 will get a stimulus check for $1,195; a person whose annual income was $75,200 will receive $1,190, and so on. The check dwindles to $0 at an annual income of $99,000 per year or higher.
The thresholds are simply doubled for couples who file jointly — the check is worth $2,400 for couples that make $150,000 per year or less, with the check dropping by $5 for every $100 over that up until the threshold of $198,000.
For those that file as a head-of-household, the check does not start reducing until an annual income of $112,500. The cap in this case is $146,500. An extra $500 is added to the check for each child you claim as a dependent regardless of the above breakdowns.
Remember that all of this information is automatically drawn from your most recent tax filing. Unfortunately, those who have had a substantial change in their income in the last five months or so will not see it reflected in their stimulus check.
Talk to Experts0comments
If you find yourself in any hyper-specific version of any of the above situations, it may be daunting to consider asking for help. However, a growing number of financial advisers are weighing in on this scenario and offering to help Americans get the most they can from the IRS. If you are able, consider reaching out to an accountant in your area to discuss options for getting your Economic Impact Payment and making the most of it.
For updates on your stimulus check, visit the IRS' Get My Payment website once per day. For the latest on the coronavirus pandemic itself, visit the websites of the CDC and the World Health Organization.