When the Senate passed a gigantic coronavirus economic relief bill that includes checks of up to $1,200 for many Americans, a lot of people reacted like it was a done deal. But even though the House of Representatives approved it today, the bill isn’t a law yet, and it might be a while until you get your “recovery rebate” check. So it’s not yet time to celebrate like it’s payday.
Not sure if you’ll be eligible to get a payment? Worried about what it’ll do to your taxes? Let’s answer some of your most common questions about your much-anticipated coronavirus relief checks.
The checks are nowhere near your mailbox yet, so be patient.
The president needs to sign the relief bill into law before the IRS can start processing payments.
If you have a bank account tied to your last tax return, either because you got a refund or paid an amount you owed by direct deposit, you’ll be first in line to get your payment. It’ll probably take about a month after the bill gets signed, according to estimates.
If you don’t have a bank account tied to your tax return, you’ll get a paper check in the mail. It’ll likely be at least May before you get your payment. But it could take well into the summer for your check to arrive.
A quick rundown on how much money you’ll get:
- If your adjusted gross income (AGI) on your last tax return was under $75,000, you’ll get $1,200.
- If you filed jointly and your AGI is under $150,000, you’ll get $2,400.
- If you filed as head of household and had an AGI under $112,500, you’ll get $1,200.
- For every dependent age 16 or younger in your household, you’ll get $500. If you have adult dependents or students in college, you won’t get a payment for them.
- If your most recent AGI was between $75,000 and $99,000, you’ll get less than $1,200, but you’ll still get a payment. The same goes joint filers with an AGI between $150,000 and $198,000 and heads of households with an AGI between $112,500 and $146,500—you’ll get less than a full payment, but you’ll get something. You can use a relief check calculator like this one to find out how much.
- If you had an AGI of more than $99,000 (single people), $198,000 (joint filers) or $146,500 (head of household), you won’t get anything.
To check your AGI, look on line line 8b on your 2019 1040 form, or line 7 on your 2018 1040.
Within 15 days of your payment being issued, you’ll get a letter from the IRS at your last known address letting you know the amount of your payment and where it was delivered. It’ll also contain contact information for the IRS if you haven’t received your payment.
Of course, if you moved, you might not get that letter. The IRS is likely to post more information for people who need to update their address with the IRS. Check this IRS link for more information as it becomes available.
The IRS will calculate your payment based on your latest tax return (either 2018 or 2019). If you didn’t file, you won’t get any money. “It is important to file one of those years if not done so already,” said Mike Savage, founder and CEO of 1-800Accountant.
If you receive government benefits like Social Security, those records will be used to issue your payment.
My AGI on my latest tax return is too high to get a relief check, but now my income is lower because of the coronavirus. Will I get any money?
You won’t get any money right now. “So far assistance in this scenario is filing for unemployment with the enhanced benefits,” Savage said. You will, however, receive any remaining credit owed to you when you file your taxes for 2020, which could result in a refund.
My AGI on my last tax return means I’ll get a check, but my income has increased since then. Will I need to pay this money back?
No. Your check is an advanced refundable tax credit—basically the government is fronting you a tax credit in the form of cash. If you don’t receive a check (or the maximum payment), but your income decreases in 2020, you might find that you get a bigger refund next year. But if your income increases in 2020, you won’t end up owing the money back.
Savage said not to wait, especially if you expect a refund.
The one exception to this rule might be if your income has fluctuated since you last filed. If your 2019 return would bump you over the income threshold while your already filed 2018 return would keep you eligible, you may want to hold off.
Will this affect my 2019 tax refund? What if I already filed my 2019 taxes but my refund is still processing?
“This check would be in addition to your 2019 refund, if you’re getting one,” Savage said.
Your recovery check is not taxable. You’ll report receiving it on your 2020 taxes, but it won’t increase your tax liability for the year.
No. You’ll still get your check if you owe federal or state back taxes.
Not this year. You’ll see a $500 credit for your new dependent on your 2020 tax return.