NEWS-SENTINEL EDITORIAL: Be prepared for government’s stimulus check

Many Americans this week have received stimulus payments promised by the U.S. Treasury Department as a result of the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act).

The U.S. began issuing one-time payments this week to tens of millions of people as part of its $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package.

More than 80 million taxpayers are expected to see a stimulus payment of $1,200 or more in their bank accounts with an additional $500 per child to help them pay rent or cover other bills. While the payments began showing up this week, if yours hasn’t yet, the IRS has a tracking tool to help you find out when the money will arrive and to confirm how you want to be paid.

The checks will be directly deposited into accounts or mailed to households in coming weeks, based on how people filed their tax returns. Direct deposits come to those who have filed taxes for 2019 or 2018 and provided bank account information for direct deposits of refunds.

The IRS uses tax return information to make payments, and those with direct deposit information on file will get them first. Those without that information will have to wait for paper checks mailed to the address the IRS has on file.

If you have anxiously checked your account but haven’t seen any extra money there or you aren’t sure how you are to receive your stimulus money, an email this week from Rep. Jim Banks (R-3rd District) advises checking on the status of your payment by using the tracking tool provided by the IRS to see when it will arrive or to confirm how you want to be paid.

The IRS has activated a “Get Your Payment” webpage — https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment — to help people track their payments. Those using the service will need to provide tax information and will be instructed whether to enter bank account information to get the money directly deposited into their accounts.

Information you will need to provide includes Social Security number, date of birth, street address and ZIP or postal code. Those who have moved should use the information from their most recent tax return.

Some people using the service have reported receiving a message saying “payment status not available.” The IRS says to check back as the system may be experiencing heavy traffic throughout the week.

The CARES Act directs the IRS to use your 2019 tax return (or 2018 if you have not yet filed the 2019 return) to determine how much you get in what it calls “economic impact payments” and how to send the money. If you didn’t file either, you can use a Form SSA-1099 Social Security Benefit Statement or Form RRB-1099 Social Security Equivalent Benefit Statement.

The “Get My Payment” application can also be used to update your direct deposit information. If you were not required to file a tax return for 2018 or 2019, your best next step is to use the IRS website to enter your payment information to ensure you get your stimulus check as quickly as possible.

Not everyone is eligible to receive a stimulus check, an article on forbes.com points out. For single filers who earn more than $75,000, their $1,200 payment will be reduced by 5 percent of the amount over $75,000. Those who make more than $99,000 are not eligible for a check. Joint filers will get $2,400 if they earn less than $150,000, but those who earn more than $198,000 get nothing. The additional $500 your receive for each dependent child is also subject to the same 5 percent reduction rule.


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