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Stimulus Check: Am I Going to Get One?

By Daniel B. Kline – May 1, 2020 at 7:05AM

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Here's how to know if you're eligible (and what to do if you haven't gotten yours).

Most Americans will get, or have already received, a government stimulus check to assist in dealing with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Those eligible will receive $1,200 each and parents will also get an extra $500 for every qualifying child. 

To qualify, you have to meet a pretty simple list of requirements laid out by the IRS. You'll get a check if you:

  • Are a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or qualifying resident alien;
  • Cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else's return;
  • Have a Social Security number (SSN) that is valid for employment (Exception: If either spouse is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces at any time during the taxable year, then only one spouse needs to have a valid SSN);
  • Have adjusted gross income below an amount based on your filing status and the number of your qualifying children.

If you meet those requirements and don't exceed gross income requirements, you should get a check. Should and did are different things. This process has been rushed (for good reason) and some people are slipping through the cracks.

A mailbox

Some checks will come in the mail. Image source: Getty Images.

Where's my money?

If you're not required to file a tax return or receive income only from federal benefits, you are still eligible for the full stimulus check. You won't get one if your income exceeds $198,000 for taxpayers filing a joint return, $136,500 for taxpayers filing as head of household, and $99,000 for all others. Those numbers go up by $10,000 per qualifying child.

Eligible people who have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return don't need to do anything, according to the IRS: "If you already filed your tax return for 2019, the IRS will use this information to calculate the Payment amount. If you haven't filed your tax return for 2019 but filed a 2018 federal income tax return, the IRS will use the information from your 2018 tax return to calculate the Payment amount."

You won't get a check (though you remain eligible) if you are required to file a tax return for 2018 and 2019 but have not filed one. In that case, your best move is to file a return with your direct deposit bank account information. For those not required to file, the IRS has a website where you can enter your info.

If you file a paper tax return and your 2018 or 2019 tax forms have not been processed, you are out of luck for the moment. The IRS has stopped processing paper returns due to coronavirus. If you filed one, you simply have to wait.

If your bank account information has changed, you will (eventually) get a paper check. The IRS will attempt to make the deposit using your old account. When that deposit gets rejected, "a check will be mailed to the address we have on file for you." That address will either be the one on your most recent return or one you updated with the United States Postal Service.

You will get paid

If you have met the requirements but have not received your check, there's not much you can do. If you have filed your 2018 return but not your 2019, filing your most recent return will give you a chance to give the IRS your most recent information.

Clearly it's frustrating to be entitled to money you may need for immediate expenses and have no way to get it. The only other thing you can do is check your status via the IRS' tool, which updates once a day.

It's hard to be patient when waiting to get paid -- whether you need the money for bills or had other plans for it. For now, that's really the only thing you can do if you have exhausted all the options above and still don't have your stimulus check.

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