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Everything You Need to Know About the COVID-19 Stimulus Checks (Including When You’ll Get Paid)
Sofia Kraushaar/Getty Images

You’ve read all about the $2 trillion stimulus package designed to offer financial help to Americans struggling in the wake of COVID-19. But you still have loads of questions about the economic relief plan, the biggest to be approved in the history of the United States. Namely, who gets what, when and how. Here’s everything you need to know.

1. Q: How much can I expect to get back?

A: Most eligible adults will get $1,200 back. But it depends on your income, according to the IRS. Single adults who have an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less will get the full amount while married couples (with no children) who filed a joint return and make less than $150,000 will receive a maximum amount of $2,400. If you’re a head of household filer (for example, a single parent) who makes less than $112,500, you should also receive the full $1,200.

But if your filing status was single or married filing separately and your adjusted gross income is between $75,000 and $99,000, you will receive a reduced payment. Same goes for head of households who made between $112,500 and $136,500 or married couples who filed jointly and made between $150,000 and $198,000. (For an individual making more than $75,000 or for a couple making more than $150,000, the payment will decrease by $5 per every $100 an individual makes over $75,000.)

Once your adjusted gross income hits $99,000 for individuals or $198,000 for married couples filing jointly, payments stop altogether. Also, if someone claims you as a dependent, you are ineligible to receive a check. (You also have to have a valid Social Security number to be eligible.)

Still have questions about how much you can expect to receive? Check out this handy calculator from The Washington Post to figure out your likely payout.

2. Q: What if I have kids?

A: Parents with children who are less than 16 years of age will get an additional $500 per child, as long as you’ve claimed your kids as dependents on your tax return. If you share custody, the money will go to the parent who claimed the kids on their tax returns.

According to the Senate Finance Committee, families with two children will no longer be eligible to receive a stimulus check if their income has surpassed $218,000.

3. Q: Do I have to apply to get paid?

A: No, the IRS will base payments off of the information they have from your 2019 or 2018 tax returns.

4. Q: What if I still haven’t filed my 2019 tax return?

A: In that case, the IRS will base the amount you receive on your 2018 return.

5. Q: Where will the money be deposited?

A: If you’ve set up direct deposit to receive a tax refund in the past, the IRS will use that same info to directly deposit the money into your account. But if you don’t have direct deposit, you can expect a physical check in the mail.

For those that prefer the direct deposit option, but don’t have it set up (or need to update the information currently on file), the IRS is working on setting up an online tool that will go live in late April where people can input their banking info, but also track the status of their deposit. (To stay up to date on when this is up and running, you can visit the section of the IRS website that is specifically devoted to COVID-19 relief efforts.)

For anyone on Social Security or disability, it’s the same as the above—the IRS will directly put the money into your account based on the info it already has. (If you don’t typically file a tax return, you can submit to receive a stimulus check via this website.)

6. Q: When will that money be deposited?

A: According to Vox, direct deposit stimulus payments have already started hitting taxpayer accounts. As for the paper checks? Those checks will start going out beginning April 24, per the IRS, but reports predict that, in actuality, it will take a long time for those to roll out. (The Washington Post predicts some checks arriving as late as September.)

7. Q: What if I get laid off? Does that make me eligible?

A: Unfortunately, if you get laid off during COVID-19, it doesn’t change your eligibility status for the stimulus checks. Eligibility is based on your adjusted gross income pulled from your 2018 and 2019 returns, not your financial situation in 2020.

8. Q: What if I’m expecting a payment, but don’t see it in my account?

A: As previously mentioned, the IRS is building an online tool that will allow Americans to track the status of their stimulus check. This should go live in late April. In addition, you will receive a paper notice by mail a few weeks after the payment goes out. If you get a paper “receipt,” and still can’t locate the payment, it’s time to reach out to the IRS.

9. Q: Do I have to pay taxes on the payment?

A: No, taxes not are required to be paid on the cash you receive via your stimulus check.

10. Q: How many payments will there be?

A: At this point in time, only one.

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