Frequently Asked Questions: Individual Relief
This page was last updated on April 2, 2020 to reflect new guidance issued by the IRS. If you last visited this page before then, you should carefully examine the answers as they may have changed.
Congress passed legislation called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which will provide direct financial relief to American families as we deal with the impacts of the coronavirus. Below are some Frequently Asked Questions regarding eligibility for this assistance courtesy of the Senate Finance Committee and the Internal Revenue Service.
II. Receiving Payment
III. Other Questions
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: What about taxpayers with adjusted gross income over $75,000 ($112,500 for head of household and $150,000 married)? Are they eligible to receive any rebate?
A: The rebate amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 that a taxpayer’s income exceeds the phase-out threshold. The amount is completely phased-out for single filers with incomes exceeding $99,000, $146,500 for head of household filers with one child, and $198,000 for joint filers with no children. For a typical family of four, the amount is completely phased out for those with adjusted gross incomes exceeding $218,000.
Q: Are seniors whose only income is from Social Security or a veteran whose only income is a veterans’ disability payment eligible?
A: Yes, as long as they are not the dependent of another taxpayer. The bill provides IRS with additional tools to locate and provide rebates to low-income seniors who normally do not file a tax return by allowing them to base a rebate on Form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefit Statement or Form RRB-1099, which is the equivalent of the Social Security statement for Railroad Employees. Some individuals who otherwise typically do not file taxes will need to file a simple tax return to receive an economic impact payment. More information on this is below.
Q: Are individuals with little to no income or those on means-tested federal benefits, such as SSI, eligible for a recovery rebate?
A: Yes, there is no qualifying income requirement. Even individuals with $0 of income are eligible for a rebate so long as they are not the dependent of another taxpayer and have a work-eligible SSN. SSI recipients with no qualifying children do not need to take any action in order to receive their $1,200 economic impact payment. The payments will be automatic. If you receive SSI benefits and have a qualifying dependent under age 17, then you should visit Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here. More information on this is below.
Q: Are college students eligible for a recovery rebate?
A: Only if they are not considered a dependent of their parents. Generally, a full-time college student under the age of 24 is considered a dependent if their parent(s) provide more than half of their support.
Q: What if my income was above the threshold in 2019, but I’ve lost my job due to the coronavirus? Can I still get a rebate check?
A: If your income in 2019 was in the phase-out range you would still receive a partial rebate based on your 2019 tax return. However, the rebate is actually an advance on a tax credit that you may claim on your 2020 tax return. If your income is lower in 2020 than in 2019, any additional credit you are eligible for will be refunded or reduce your tax liability when you file your 2020 tax return next year.
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.
II. Receiving Payment
Q: I am eligible for a rebate, what do I have to do to receive it?
A: For the vast majority of Americans, no action on their part will be required to receive a rebate check since the IRS will use a taxpayer’s 2019 tax return if filed or their 2018 return if they haven’t filed their 2019 return. This includes many individuals with very low income who file a tax return despite not owing any tax in order to take advantage of the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. 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. If you receive social security benefits or typically are not required to file a tax return, please see below for more information specific to your circumstances.
Q: I am eligible for a rebate, and I receive social security benefits, so what do I have to do to receive my stimulus check?
A: Social Security beneficiaries who are not typically required to file tax returns will not need to file a 2019 tax return to receive a payment. Instead, payments will be automatically deposited into their bank accounts, or if their check is normally sent by mail, it will be mailed to them. The IRS will use the information on the Form SSA-1099 to generate the stimulus payments to social security recipients who are not required to file a tax return and did not file a return for 2018 or 2019. Since the IRS would not have information regarding any dependents for these individuals, each person would receive $1,200 per person, without the additional amount for any dependents. Therefore, if you have a dependent under 17 and would like to receive the additional $500 credit, you must file a simple tax return to receive it.
Q: I am eligible for a rebate, and I receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a veteran's pension or I am otherwise not typically required to file a tax return. Can I still receive my payment?
A: Yes; however, some people who typically do not file returns will still need to submit a simple tax return to receive the stimulus payment. For example, individuals who receive SSI benefits and have a qualifying dependent under age 17 should also plan to file a simple tax return in order to ensure they receive the stimulus check. However, if you are an SSI recipient with no qualifying children, then you do not need to take any action in order to receive your economic impact payment. The payment will be automatic. Additionally, veterans and their beneficiaries who receive Compensation and Pension (C&P) benefit payments will receive their Economic Impact Payments automatically and without additional paperwork. When in doubt, the best course of action is to file your 2019 taxes with direct deposit information to ensure eligibility and to ensure you receive the money as quickly as possible.
Q: What should I do if I did not file a tax return for 2019 or 2018 and I do not receive Social Security benefits?
A: The best way to ensure you receive a recovery rebate is to file a 2019 tax return if you have not already done so and have a tax liability. If you have no tax liability, you can use this online tool to register for the Economic Impact Payment instead.
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: Treasury has launched a new 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. This will be faster than waiting for the check to arrive in the mail.
Q: How can I file the tax return needed to receive my economic impact payment?
A: If you have a tax liability, you should file your normal 2019 taxes as soon as possible. If you do not have a tax liability, you can use this online tool to file a simple, but necessary, form with information including your filing status, number of dependents and direct deposit bank account information.
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.
III. Other Questions
Q: Is the rebate taxable or will I have to pay back any amount if the rebate based on my 2019 return is larger than what it would be if based on my 2020 tax year return?
A: No, the rebate is treated like other refundable tax credits, such as the child tax credit and earned income tax credit, and not considered income. Moreover, if the credit amount you qualify based on 2020 income is less than what you qualify for based on your 2019 tax return, it does not have to be paid back.
Q: Who qualifies as a child for purposes of the rebate?
A: Any child who is a qualifying child for the purposes of the Child Tax Credit is also a qualifying child for the purposes of the recovery rebate. In general, a child is any dependent of a taxpayer under the age of 17.
Q: Do dependents, other than children under 17, qualify a taxpayer for an additional $500 per dependent?
A: No, the additional $500 per child is limited to children under 17.
Q: If I have a past due debt to a federal or state agency, or owe back taxes, will my rebate be reduced?
A: No, the bill turns off nearly all administrative offsets that ordinarily may reduce tax refunds for individuals who have past tax debts, or who are behind on other payments to federal or state governments, including student loan payments. The only administrative offset that will be enforced applies to those who have past due child support payments that the states have reported to the Treasury Department.
Q: Can families with children born in 2019 or 2020 receive the $500 child credit?
A: Yes, but action is required. A family with a child born in 2019 is eligible for the $500 per child rebate amount (assuming all other requirements are satisfied). If the family has not yet filed a 2019 tax return, the IRS will determine the family’s rebate amount based on their 2018 tax return filing. As a result, the family will not automatically receive the $500 rebate amount for the child born in 2019. To receive the credit the family can either a) claim the $500 credit on their 2020 tax return filing made in 2021, or b) file their 2019 tax return quickly with the child’s SSN and receive the $500 in the rebate check sooner. Likewise, a family with a child born in 2020 is eligible for the $500 per child rebate amount. The family will be able to claim the $500 credit on their 2020 tax returns filed in 2021.
Q. Will the rebate check affect my eligibility for federal programs, like Supplemental Security Income?
A: No. The rebate is considered a tax refund and is not counted towards eligibility for federal programs.
Q: Where can I get more information?
A: The IRS will post all key information on IRS.gov/coronavirus as soon as it becomes available.
If you have any questions about this legislation, please do not hesitate to reach out to our office at 202-225-3026.