You must have a Social Security number and not be a dependent of someone else. Following are the specifics:

  • Individuals (aka Single filing status) who have an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $75,000 or less are eligible to receive the full payment amount, which is $1,200. That payment reduces by $5 for every $100 in income above $75,000. Reduced payments will go out to individuals who earn up to $99,000 a year. If you earn more than $99,000, you will not receive a payment.
  • Married couples with an AGI of $150,000 or less are eligible to receive a full payment amount of $2,400. That payment also reduces by $5 for every $100 over the $150,000 mark for couples who earn up to $198,000. Those who have an AGI that’s more than $198,000 are not eligible to receive a payment.
  • Head of Household filers who have an AGI of up to $112,500 are eligible to receive a $1,200 payment. Reduced payments will be sent to Head of Household filers with an AGI of up to $136,500. Those who earn more than $136,500 are not eligible to receive a payment.

Check line 8b on your 2019 1040 federal tax return to find your AGI. If you haven’t filed your 2019 return yet and need to refer to your 2018 AGI, check line 7 on Form 1040.

But what if I have children?

Good news! If you have children under the age of 17, you may qualify to receive an extra $500 for each one.

Unfortunately, that means if your child is over the age of 17 you will not qualify for extra money.

My child is in college, do I get anything extra?

Unfortunately, no. To qualify for the extra $500 your child must be younger than age 17.

What about people who are on Social Security or who don’t earn an income?

If you are on Social Security or otherwise don’t earn an income, you still qualify for the relief payments. That is as long as your total income does not exceed the income thresholds mentioned above.

That’s true even for people whose income comes entirely from non-taxable means-tested benefit programs, such as SSI benefits. In the first draft of the bill, the payments were limited to those who earned income. That is no longer the case.

How do I get the payment? Do I need to do anything?

You don’t need to worry about doing anything. The payments will come automatically. If you already filed your 2019 tax return, the federal government already has the most up-to-date information needed to accurately assess how much your payment should be and send it to you.

If you haven’t completed your 2019 return, we recommend filing as soon as you can so you receive the most accurate payment. Filing now also helps to ensure your bank account and home address information is up to date so there is no question about where the money should be sent.

If you don’t file your return by the time the payments go out, your 2018 AGI will be used to determine how much you are due.

For retirees who are not required to file a return and receive Social Security benefits, the information needed to accurately assess your payment and send it to you is collected from what’s on file with the Social Security Administration (SSA). As long as you received a SSA-1099 form (the Social Security benefit statement), the federal government will send your payment the same way they send your Social Security payment. Disabled individuals are also eligible for the payment.

When will I receive my money?

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin initially stated his goal was to get the first payments issued the week of April 6. Many experts, however, have stated that may be too ambitious of a goal. They speculate it will likely be later in April.

In 2008, the stimulus payments went out in batches. It took roughly eight weeks for everyone to receive their checks.

How will I receive it?

To promote social distancing and get the money in the hands of Americans as fast as possible, the federal government prefers to send the payments via direct deposit. Going the direct deposit route allows you to receive your payment much quicker.

If you don’t have a direct deposit option, however, other solutions are available. Paper checks will be sent if necessary.

Will I be notified?

The Treasury will send you a notice of the payment by mail to your last known address. It will list how the payment was made plus the amount deposited.

If you don’t receive the payment, the notice will also include a phone number for the appropriate point of contact at the IRS. Until you receive your payment, hold onto the notice.

Is this money taxable?

No, the payments are not taxable.

How does that work?

Technically, the money is an advance of a refundable credit on your 2020 return. A refundable credit is a tax benefit you can take advantage of even if you do not owe any tax. If you qualify to claim it, any money that isn’t needed to pay down your tax liability is refunded to you. Basically, the stimulus payments are advance refunds based on your 2020 income.

Will this affect my 2019 refund?

No, these stimulus payments will not change your 2019 refund or impact your anticipated 2020 refund.

What if I owe money to the IRS for prior years?

Lucky for you, you don’t have to worry about that. Any IRS liabilities you currently have, including any back taxes, won’t be taken out of this money. You’ll still receive your full payment.

For the official notices, visit the IRS’ Coronavirus Tax Relief page.