How Much Could You Get from the Coronavirus Stimulus Checks?
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With the effects of the coronavirus crisis in full, unprecedented swing, President Donald Trump recently signed a $2 trillion relief package to help offset some of the economic consequences of the pandemic. As part of the measure, everyday Americans will receive a government-issued stimulus check for up to $1,200.
News of this small windfall spread rapidly and has been received with ambivalence; while “free” money is always welcome, the full amount barely covers most Americans’ rent for a single month.
What’s more, the stated amount is not actually a blanket figure that applies to every American. Not everyone will get the full $1,200—and some will receive a little bit more.
Here’s what you need to know about how the government will calculate the total amount of your coronavirus stimulus check, as well as how (and when!) to expect the money.
How Much Will I Get from My Stimulus Check?
According to the IRS , tax filers whose gross adjusted incomes, or AGIs, are less than or equal to $75,000 for individuals or $150,000 for married couples are eligible for a one-time payment in the full amount of $1,200. Married couples filing jointly will receive a single check for $2,400.
This automatic eligibility applies to people who filed annual tax returns for either 2018 or 2019, as well as certain groups who don’t file, such as Social Security recipients and railroad retirees.
Most people don’t have to do anything to ensure the check will be issued, as the government already has the information it needs based on existing tax return information.
But there are some additional demographic factors that go into the calculation—and some people in special scenarios who may have questions about their eligibility.
Factors that Affect the Amount of Your Stimulus Check
Here’s what the government will take into consideration before cutting your stimulus check.
For those who earn above the $75,000/$150,000 figures stated above, a phaseout applies: $5 will be deducted from the payment amount for every $100 above the thresholds. So, for example, if you make $80,000 per year, you’d receive $950. ($5,000/$100 = 50; 50 x $5 = $250 less.)
Single filers who make more than $99,000, and married couples filing jointly who make more than $198,000 and don’t have children, are not eligible for the economic stimulus check at all.
Gross adjusted income includes all sources of income, such as wages, dividends, capital gains, business income, and retirement distributions—and also accounts for adjustments and deductions such as student loan interest, alimony payments or retirement account contributions.
Along with the $1,200 per person outlined above, parents are eligible to receive an additional $500 per qualifying child age 16 or under as part of the economic stimulus package.
To qualify, children must meet the same eligibility guidelines as they would for the child tax credit. (You can use this tool to determine whether or not your child is eligible.)
There’s unfortunate news for many college students: if anyone claims them as a dependent on a tax return, they won’t be eligible to receive the check for themselves. (This applies to most students aged 24 or under.)
However, if you’re in college and paying for more than half of your own expenses—or you’re over the age of 24—you may still be eligible to receive the check.
Retired or Persons with Disabilities
Individuals who don’t receive an income because they’re retired or living with a disability will still be eligible to receive the stimulus check.
If you don’t normally file a tax return, you may need to submit a simpler version of a tax return—which will not result in your owing taxes—in order for the government to issue the stimulus check.
Americans Living Abroad
If you’re living abroad, you’re still eligible to receive the check so long as you meet the eligibility requirements and have a Social Security number.
How Will I Get My Relief Check?
Now that we know how much to expect from the government relief check, we still have another important question to answer: How will the money actually show up?
If you already have direct deposit information on file with the IRS to accommodate your tax return, the money should automatically show up in your account if you’re eligible. If you don’t, you will receive a paper check from the government… eventually.
While direct deposits will begin going out over the first three weeks of April , paper checks will not be issued until May 4, and will go out at a rate of 5 million per week.
The checks will be issued to those with the lowest AGIs first, so if you’re a middle-class earner, it may take a while for you to see the stimulus check if you’re receiving it in this way.
Although there’s not currently an easy way to provide the IRS with your banking information, the government has announced it’s planning to roll out an online portal to do so “in the coming weeks.”
However you receive the money, though, it’s probably more important than ever to incorporate the small windfall into a sound overall financial plan—one that accounts for the rest of the impact the coronavirus crisis may be having on your money.
Many workers have been laid off either temporarily or permanently, and the stock market has experienced some serious turbulence.
That said, this trying time could be the harbinger of prosperity ahead: bear markets lead to losses, but can also allow investors to get in at a low price.
And shifts in personal financial flow can be a great opportunity to take a closer look at your long-term goals and budget.
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