The U.S. government has been sending checks — or direct deposits — to most Americans to help people survive financially this winter until coronavirus vaccines are more widely available.
A bipartisan deal signed by President Trump in late December provided $600 “Economic Impact Payments” to adults with annual incomes up to $75,000, plus another $600 per child. As part of the Trump stimulus package, some Americans earning more than $75,000 will also receive money if they meet certain qualifications outlined below.
These $600 checks predate the current stimulus check debate underway. President Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion emergency coronavirus plan that covers a national vaccination program, directs stimulus payments for struggling families and relief for small businesses and communities. As a part of those deliberations, Congress is debating sending moderate-income households another round of stimulus payments up to $1,400, however those details are still in flux.
Also, top Democrats in Congress are also debating a $3,000-per-child benefit proposal that would direct the IRS to begin sending $250 per month to millions of family this summer.
Use the calculator below to see how much you should receive under President Trump’s stimulus package. Under that, see answers to frequently asked questions.
What is different in the second round? The checks are $600 per adult, which is half the amount from the spring. Children under 17 qualify for a $600 payment per child (up from $500 in the spring).
The other major difference is mixed-immigration-status families will be eligible for this payment and for the prior Cares Act payment from the spring. Anyone in the family who is a U.S. citizen or has a “valid identification number” listed on their tax return will be eligible for the payment.
Who exactly qualifies for a payment? The IRS is using your 2019 tax return to determine eligibility for this payment.
Individuals with adjusted gross incomes up to $75,000 a year will be eligible for the full $600 payment. Reduced checks will go out to individuals making up to $87,000 a year (down from $99,000 in the spring).
Married couples are eligible for a $1,200 check as long as their adjusted gross income is under $150,000 a year. Reduced checks, on a sliding scale, will go out to married couples who earn up to $174,000. Married couples also will receive an additional $600 for every child under 17.
People who file as a “head of household” (typically single parents with children) are eligible for a $600 check if they have an adjusted gross income up to $112,500 a year, plus an additional $600 per child under 17. Reduced checks on a sliding scale are available for heads of household earning up to $124,500 annually.
In total, a family of four can expect to receive $2,400 if it meets the income requirements.
How does the U.S. government know where to send the money? If you have already received a payment from the first round of stimulus checks, then the IRS will deliver this second payment in the same way.
Most Americans will receive the payment via direct deposit, but the IRS will send you a paper check if it does not have your bank details on file or you closed the account the IRS has on file.
When will the payments arrive? The goal is to get the money out as quickly as possible. Mnuchin says the IRS should be able to start sending funds a week after Trump signed the bill, which means the first full week in January. Most direct deposits are expected to arrive in January, with paper checks to follow.
What about people on Social Security? People on Social Security — retirees and those on disability and supplemental income — are eligible to receive the coronavirus relief payment as long as their total income does not exceed the limit. The Treasury Department has clarified that people on Social Security who do not normally file a tax return will automatically receive the payment. They do not need to file anything else.
Americans who received regular payments from the Railroad Retirement Board or the Department of Veterans Affairs also qualify automatically for the $600 payments.
How many Americans will get these payments? About 160 million people received a payment in the first round of stimulus checks. This time, about 158 million are expected to receive a payment, estimated Kyle Pomerleau, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who specializes in tax policy. Because not as many will qualify for partial payments, slightly fewer people get a payment this time.
Pomerleau says 84 percent of American households will get the full rebate and 5 percent will get a partial rebate.
Who won’t get a check? The main people excluded from receiving a payment are the wealthy, “nonresident aliens” and “adult dependents” who can be claimed on someone else’s tax return. This means that some young people ages 18 to 26 will not qualify for a payment.
Are the checks taxable? No.
What happens to people who earned too much in 2019 but lost their job in 2020? This is a really tough situation. Unfortunately, these workers are not eligible for $600 checks right away. They would get the rebate when they file their 2020 taxes in the spring of 2021.
If I owe past taxes, will my check be reduced? No. The payments cannot be garnished for back taxes or by private creditors or debt collectors. This time around, the payments also cannot be reduced for past-due child support.
What if my income is higher in 2020? You do not have to pay the government back. If you get a payment and your 2020 income turns out to be higher than expected, the money does not have to be paid back.
What if I don’t normally file taxes? Do I need to use the nonfiler tool again on the IRS website? No, if you provided information to the IRS on the nonfiler portal during the first round of stimulus checks, you are all set.
Kevin Uhrmacher contributed to this report.