The coronavirus pandemic has cost millions of Americans their jobs, setting unemployment records. Roughly 3.3 million people filed for unemployment benefits in mid-March, which is four times higher than the previous record.
With so many people out of work, many households are struggling just to pay the bills. In an attempt to provide relief, Congress recently passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Although the bill introduces adjustments to everything from unemployment benefits to retirement accounts, one of the most publicized aspects is the stimulus check millions of Americans will be receiving.
Understandably, many people are eager to receive their check as quickly as possible. And according to new IRS information, here's what you need to do to speed up the process.
How to collect your stimulus check as soon as possible
To determine who should receive a stimulus check, the government is using workers' tax returns and then either mailing or directly depositing checks. That means most people shouldn't need to do anything in order to collect their check. But it does mean you should file your taxes right now if you haven't already.
The IRS will use the information in your 2019 tax return to determine whether you're eligible and then send your check. If you haven't filed your 2019 taxes yet, the IRS will use your 2018 tax return. If you haven't filed that return yet, do so ASAP or else it might affect whether you receive a stimulus check.
You'll get your check the fastest if you already use direct deposit for your tax refunds, because the IRS and Treasury Department should have your bank account information on file already. Otherwise, you may have to wait a little longer to receive your check in the mail. The IRS also recently announced that it is currently setting up an online portal for people to provide their bank account information so they can collect their check via direct deposit.
If you're collecting Social Security benefits, you may not normally file a tax return, but you could still be eligible for the stimulus check. The Treasury Department recently announced that recipients who don't typically file tax returns will automatically receive their checks via direct deposit or mail based on the information the Social Security Administration has on file. So if you're receiving benefits and haven't filed a tax return, you shouldn't need to do anything right now to collect your stimulus check.
Stimulus checks are expected to be distributed within the next three weeks, so if you haven't done so already, file your tax return and set up your direct deposit information to receive your check as soon as possible.
Who is eligible for a stimulus check?
Not everyone is eligible to receive a check, so before you get too excited about the extra cash, double-check that you qualify.
If you have an adjusted gross income of less than $75,000 per year (for single filers), $112,500 per year (for heads of household), or $150,000 per year (for married couples filing jointly), you will receive the full payment of $1,200 (or $2,400 for married couples).
For every $100 you earn above those limits, your check will be reduced by $5. That means if you're earning more than $99,000 per year (for singles), $136,500 per year (for heads of household), or $198,000 per year (for married couples), you won't receive a check at all. In addition, parents of qualifying dependent children can collect an additional $500 per child.
Millions of Americans will receive stimulus checks, and this money can go a long way in helping pay the bills. Just make sure you've filed your taxes, because that will ensure you receive your check sooner rather than later.