Questions and answers about the second round of stimulus payments

Congress on Monday passed a $900 billion coronavirus relief package that includes a second round of direct payments for most Americans.

The relief package, which has yet to be signed into law, would provide payments of up to $600 for adults and children. The checks for adults are smaller than the $1,200 payments from earlier in the pandemic, but the amount for children is up $100 compared with the first round.

The new payments have garnered widespread interest and questions as millions of Americans struggle to pay basic expenses as a result of the pandemic. President Trump, however, slammed the relief bill on Tuesday night and called on Congress to increase the stimulus checks to $2,000 each. In doing so, he suggested he might not sign the legislation, but stopped short of saying he would veto the measure, which includes funding to keep the government open through Sept. 30.

Here are answers to key questions about the second round of stimulus payments included in the $900 billion package.

Who is eligible to get a payment?

Individuals with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 and married couples with adjusted gross income up to $150,000 qualify for the full payment amounts of $600 per adult and per child under the age of 17.

The amounts decrease for households above those income thresholds. Individuals without children who have income above $87,000 and married couples with no children and income above $174,000 do not qualify for any payment.

There is no limit on the number of children in a family who can receive payments. For example, a household with two parents and five children under 17 would qualify for a total payment of $4,200.

For the most part, eligible recipients need to have a Social Security number.

A change to eligibility in Monday’s relief bill said that U.S. citizens who file joint tax returns with spouses who don’t have a Social Security number will now be able to receive a payment. However, only the spouse with a Social Security number will receive a stimulus check. In families with children, at least one spouse has to have a Social Security number, and Social Security numbers have to be provided for each child in order for them to receive their payments.

The expanded eligibility for mixed-status families in the new bill is retroactive to the direct payments from earlier this year. If a mixed-status family didn’t get a first-round payment, they can claim it when they file their 2020 tax return.

Who is ineligible to receive a payment?

People ages 17 and older who are claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return do not qualify for payments. This category includes college students whose parents claim them as dependents and elderly people who are claimed as dependents on a relative’s tax return.

The bill also specifies that people who died prior to Jan. 1, 2020, are not eligible for payments.

How quickly will I get my payment?

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday that he expects people will start receiving their payments next week.

The IRS will send payments to people via direct deposit in cases where it has their bank information. The IRS has bank information for more Americans compared with earlier in the pandemic since it had created a web tool so that people could provide their direct deposit information to receive the first round of payments that were mandated in the CARES Act from late March.

In cases where the IRS does not have direct deposit information, the agency will send payments by mail to the address on the taxpayer’s 2019 tax return.

The IRS will send payments to people automatically based on information from their 2019 return. It will automatically send payments to people who were not required to file a tax return but receive Social Security benefits, railroad retirement benefits, Supplemental Security Income or certain veterans benefits.

The IRS is required to make advance payments by Jan. 15. Eligible recipients whose payments aren’t issued automatically by then can claim their payments when they file their 2020 tax return next year. The tax-filing season is likely to start in late January.

Will I have to pay taxes on my payment?

No. The stimulus payments are not taxable income; they are considered advance payments of tax credits.

My income was substantially different in 2020 than it was in 2019. How will that affect my payment?

People will receive automatic payments from the IRS late this year and early next year based on their 2019 income. However, taxpayers who are entitled to bigger payments based on their 2020 incomes because they made less money this year can get the additional amount when they file their 2020 tax returns.

Taxpayers whose 2020 income was much higher than their 2019 income do not have to pay back any money they received that they wouldn’t have gotten if their advance payment was based off their 2020 income.

If I had a child this year, is the newborn eligible for the $600 payment?

Taxpayers who had children in 2020 will not automatically receive payments for any new children but can claim those credits when they file their 2020 tax return.

Will my payment amount be smaller if I have any past due debts?

The advance payments will not be reduced because of past-due federal or state debts. Unlike the first round, they can’t be reduced if someone owes past-due child support.

Additionally, the bill includes a provision to prevent the payments from being garnished by banks and private debt collectors. Such a provision was not included in the legislation that created the first round of payments.

I never received my first payment. Can I still get it?

In cases where eligible Americans did not receive their first payment or received too small of a payment, they can claim a tax credit when they file their 2020 tax return.

Updated at 8:13 p.m.

Tags CARES Act Coronavirus COVID-19 relief direct payments Donald Trump Internal Revenue Service Pandemic Steven Mnuchin stimulus checks
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