Information about the CARES Act Economic Impact Payments (Stimulus Checks)

Updated April 27. Originally posted April 6, 2020

IMPORTANT Notice: 

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy has recently received calls from people asking about a second round of economic impact payments (better known as stimulus payments).

We want to make sure everyone knows that as of today, the federal government has not issued a second round of these payments. Discussions between Congress and President Trump are ongoing, but nothing has been decided yet.

If you have questions about your stimulus payments, contact Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy by calling 980-202-7329.

Many people anticipate receiving the CARES Act’s Economic Impact Payments (Stimulus Checks). Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy wants to make sure you have the information you need to know what to expect and how to get your payment.

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Anyone in need of other assistance from Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy can contact us by calling 704-376-1600 (Mecklenburg County), 800-438-1254 (Outside Mecklenburg County) or 800-247-1931 (Linea de Español).

Who is eligible for the payment?

Tax filers with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns will receive the full payment.

For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000/$150,000 thresholds. Single filers with income exceeding $99,000 and $198,000 for joint filers with no children are not eligible. 

Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 will automatically receive an economic impact payment of up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples. Parents also receive $500 for each qualifying child. 

Will the IRS take my payment if I have outstanding IRS debts, federal student loans or other government debts?

No, but the IRS will take your payment to the extent necessary to pay any outstanding child support obligations. 

How will the IRS calculate my payment?

For people who have already filed their 2019 tax returns, the IRS will use this information to calculate the payment amount. For those who have not yet filed their tax return for 2019, the IRS will use information from their 2018 tax filing to calculate the payment.

Most people do not need to take any action. The IRS will calculate and automatically send the payment to those eligible. 

How will the IRS know where to send my payment?

The economic impact payment will be deposited directly into the same banking account reflected on your tax return filed. 

The IRS does not have my direct deposit information. What can I do?

The IRS has an online portal, Get My Payment, for individuals to:

  • Check their payment status
  • Confirm their payment type: direct deposit or check
  • Enter their bank account information for direct deposit if the IRS doesn’t have their direct deposit information and the IRS hasn’t sent their payment yet

How to use Get My Payment

Taxpayers only need a few pieces of information to quickly obtain the status of their payment and, where needed, provide their bank account information. Having a copy of their most recent tax return can help speed the process.

For taxpayers to track the status of their payment, this feature will show taxpayers the payment amount, scheduled delivery date by direct deposit or paper check and if a payment hasn’t been scheduled. They will need to enter basic information including:

  • Social Security number
  • Date of birth, and
  • Mailing address used on their tax return.

Taxpayers needing to add their bank account information to speed receipt of their payment will also need to provide the following additional information:

  • Their Adjusted Gross Income from their most recent tax return submitted, either 2019 or 2018
  • The refund or amount owed from their latest filed tax return
  • Bank account type, account and routing numbers

Get My Payment cannot update bank account information after an Economic Impact Payment has been scheduled for delivery. To help protect against potential fraud, the tool also does not allow people to change bank account information already on file with the IRS. 

Is providing bank account information to the IRS when paying your tax filing liability good enough?

No, people who paid electronically are going to have to input deposit account information. Go to Get My Payment.

When will payments begin?

Taxpayers with direct deposit information on file with the IRS should see their payment in their bank accounts beginning the week of April 13, while others might have to wait up to five months to receive paper checks. 

The first checks should go to the 60 million taxpayers with direct deposit information from their 2018 or 2019 tax returns on file with the IRS. After that, the IRS will issue about 5 million paper checks per week to as many as 100 million individuals who don’t have direct deposit information on file in a process that could take up to 20 weeks to complete. 

What about taxpayers who don’t have bank accounts?

The U.S. Treasury Department and the IRS are working with digital companies and prepaid debit card providers to ensure there are other avenues for those taxpayers get their money quickly. 

I receive SS/VA benefits and/or I am not typically required to file a tax return. Can I still receive my payment?

Yes. Individuals who receive Social Security benefits (Social Security retirement, disability income (SSDI), supplemental income (SSI) or Survivors Benefits) or Veterans Affairs benefits (disability compensation, pension or survivors benefits) who didn’t file tax returns in 2018 or 2019 won’t need to file tax returns to receive their payments. 

They should receive the additional money just as they would their Social Security or VA benefits. The IRS will use the information provided by the Social Security Administration/VA to generate the $1,200 Economic Impact Payments. Recipients will get their payment as a direct deposit or by paper check, just as they normally would.

SPECIAL NOTES: Unless they filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return, recipients of Social Security or VA benefits who began receiving their benefits in 2020 will need to use the IRS’ Non-Filers: Enter Your Payment Info option to claim their $1,200 payment. If you have not filled out this form, you must do so by November 21st to receive your $1,200 payment.

And, those recipients of Social Security or VA benefits who have qualifying children under age 17 should use the IRS’ Non-Filers: Enter Your Payment Info option to claim the $500 per child payment. The IRS has reopened registration for recipients of Social Security or VA benefits to claim the $500 per child payment. If you have a child under age 17 and did not previously file the IRS’ Non-Filers: Enter Your Payment Info to claim the payment, do so now between August 15th and September 30th to receive it. Payments will be issued beginning mid-October.

I am not typically required to file a tax return because I am low-income. Can I still receive my payment?

Yes. Unless they filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return, low-income individuals who are otherwise not required to file a tax return will need to use the IRS’ Non-Filers: Enter Your Payment Info option to claim their payment.

I have not filed my tax return for 2018 or 2019. Can I still receive a payment?

Yes. The IRS urges anyone with a tax filing obligation who has not yet filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019 to file as soon as they can to receive a payment. Taxpayers should include direct deposit banking information on the return. Visit IRS Free File

If I receive SSI or a VA pension will my payment be considered income?

Please note that the Social Security Administration and Department of Veterans Affairs will not consider the payments as income, and the payments are excluded from resources for 12 months.

What about taxpayers with Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITINs)?

Immigrants with ITINs are not eligible for the $1,200 payments. 

What about mixed-status families (SSN valid for employment and ITIN on the same tax return)?

If a husband, wife or any claimed dependent has an ITIN rather than a Social Security Number (SSN), it appears that no member of the family will get the payment (Exception for those serving in the Armed Services). 

Of course, the couple could leave dependents with ITINs off their tax return. And filing separately may be an option, however, the couple may miss out on some other refundable credits, such as the Additional Child Tax Credit and education credits, if they do so.

I need to file a tax return. How long are payments available?

For those concerned about visiting a tax professional or local community organization in person to get help with a tax return, these economic impact payments will be available throughout the rest of 2020.

Does someone who has died qualify for the payment?

No. A payment made to someone who died before receipt of the payment should be returned to the IRS by following the instructions for repayments. Return the entire payment unless the payment was made to joint filers and one spouse had not died before receipt of the payment, in which case, you only need to return the portion of the payment made on account of the decedent. This amount will be $1,200 unless adjusted gross income exceeded $150,000.

Does someone who is incarcerated qualify for the payment?

No. A payment made to someone who is incarcerated should be returned to the IRS by following the instructions for repayments. For a payment made with respect to a joint return where only one spouse is incarcerated, you only need to return the portion of the payment made on account of the incarcerated spouse. This amount will be $1,200 unless adjusted gross income exceeded $150,000.

What should I do to return a payment?

You should return the payment as described below.

If the payment was a paper check:

  • Write “Void” in the endorsement section on the back of the check.
  • Mail the voided Treasury check immediately to the appropriate IRS location listed below.
  • Don’t staple, bend, or paper clip the check.
  • Include a note stating the reason for returning the check.

If the payment was a paper check and you have cashed it, or if the payment was a direct deposit:

  • Submit a personal check, money order, etc., immediately to the appropriate IRS location listed below.
  • Write on the check/money order made payable to “U.S. Treasury” and write 2020EIP, and the taxpayer identification number (social security number,  or individual taxpayer identification number) of the recipient of the check.
  • Include a brief explanation of the reason for returning the payment

Where can I get more information?

The IRS will post all key information on IRS.gov/coronavirus as soon as it becomes available.

The IRS has a reduced staff in many of its offices but remains committed to helping eligible individuals receive their payments expeditiously. Check for updated information on IRS.gov/coronavirus rather than calling IRS assisters who are helping process 2019 returns.