Ready to file your 2020 tax return?

Here are five things to keep in mind this tax season:

1. The tax filing season is February 12th, 2021 through April 15th, 2021

Update

The federal tax filing deadline has been extended to May 17, 2021. The filing deadline for state taxes in North Carolina is also May 17.

The Internal Revenue Service announced that the nation’s tax season will start on Friday, February 12, 2021, when the tax agency will begin accepting and processing 2020 tax year returns.

The February 12 start date for individual tax return filers allows the IRS time to do additional programming and testing of IRS systems following the December 27 tax law changes that provided a second round of Economic Impact Payments and other benefits.

Start collecting your tax documents and preparing your tax return today!

2. Many families can file for free using IRS Free File

The IRS Free File Program is a partnership with tax filing software leaders who provide their brand-name products for free. There are two ways to file your return online for free:

  • Traditional IRS Free File provides free online tax preparation and filing options on IRS partner sites. Only taxpayers whose adjusted gross income (or AGI) is $72,000 or less qualify for any IRS Free File partner offers.
  • Free File Fillable Forms are electronic federal tax forms you can fill out and file online for free. If you choose this option, you should know how to prepare your own tax return. It is the only IRS Free File option available for taxpayers whose income (AGI) is greater than $72,000.

Learn more at https://www.irs.gov/filing/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-free

3. Eligible people who didn’t receive stimulus payments can claim them with the Recover Rebate Credit

Economic Impact Payments (EIP) are referred to as the Recovery Rebate Credit (RRC) on Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR. You may be eligible to claim your EIP through the RRC if you are a recent college graduate, were claimed as a dependent on a 2019 tax return but will file independently on your 2020 tax return, are incarcerated or were recently incarcerated, or missed the Nov. 21 deadline to use the non-tax filer tool to claim your stimulus check.

4. You can deduct up to $300 in charitable donations without itemizing

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, enacted last spring, includes several temporary tax changes helping charities, including the special $300 deduction designed especially for people who choose to take the standard deduction, rather than itemizing their deductions.

Under this new change, individual taxpayers can claim an “above-the-line” deduction of up to $300 for cash donations made to charity during 2020. This means the deduction lowers both adjusted gross income and taxable income – translating into tax savings for those making donations to qualifying tax-exempt organizations.

5. 2019 incomes can be used to determine your Earned Income Tax Credit

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) helps low- to moderate-income workers and families get a tax break. If you qualify, you can use the credit to reduce the taxes you owe – and maybe increase your refund.

You may claim the EITC if your income is low- to moderate. The amount of your credit may change if you have children, dependents, are disabled or meet other criteria.

If your earned income was higher in 2019 than in 2020, you can use the 2019 amount to figure your EITC for 2020.

VITA Offers Free Help Filing 2020 Taxes

Biden Implements 100 Day Moratorium on Removal Proceedings

On inauguration day, the Biden Administration announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would “conduct a review of [all] policies and practices concerning immigration enforcement” to, among other things, “build fair and effective asylum procedures that respect human rights and due process.” Titled the “Pekoske Memo,” the announcement also requires DHS to provide recommendations for the issuance of revised policies as soon as possible and no later than 100 days.

The Pekoske Memo prohibits removal (deportation), for 100 days beginning January 22, 2021, of any immigrant who was present in the US before November 1, 2020. There are only two categories of persons to whom this moratorium does not apply. The first category includes persons who are terrorists, suspected terrorists or individuals who pose a national security threat. The second category is comprised of individuals who have stipulated to removal as part of a criminal disposition.

The Pekoske Memo further instructs DHS that, during the 100-day period beginning February 1, 2021, any actions taken by DHS that would be permitted outside of the removal moratorium be consistent with the priority of apprehending and removing immigrants only in the following categories: (a) terrorists, suspected terrorists or other individuals who pose a national security threat; (b) individuals who crossed the border after Nov. 1, 2020; and (c) non-citizens who have committed certain serious crimes as defined by immigration law.”

The moratorium will impact the vast majority of immigrants in the United States. However, we caution immigrants who have had contact with the criminal justice system to determine whether they might have stipulated to removal as part of a criminal disposition. A stipulation to removal as part of a criminal disposition disqualifies a person from eligibility for the moratorium on removal. Immigrants who have had contact with the criminal justice system and are worried about removal (deportation) should call Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy for assistance in making this determination.

With limited exceptions, the Pekoske Memo provides a desperately-needed reprieve to immigrants who, for the last several years, have woken up to the daily realization that this day may be their last here. We celebrate the memo’s publication and look forward to the reforms that are underway at DHS!

You can find a full text of the Pekoskie Memo at: https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/21_0120_enforcement-memo_signed.pdf

El Memo de Pekoske prohíbe la deportación por 100 días

El día de la inauguración, la Administración de Biden anunció que el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional (DHS) “realizaría una revisión de [todas] las políticas y prácticas relacionadas con la aplicación de la ley de inmigración” entre otras cosas, “construir procedimientos de asilo justos y efectivos que respeten los derechos humanos y debido proceso “. Titulado “Pekoske Memo”, el anuncio también requiere que el DHS brinde recomendaciones para la emisión de políticas revisadas lo antes posible y no más tarde de 100 días.

El Memo de Pekoske prohíbe la deportación por 100 días, comenzando el 22 de enero del 2021, de cualquier inmigrante presente en los EE. UU. antes del 1 de noviembre de 2020. Solo hay dos categorías de personas a las que no se aplica esta moratoria. La primera categoría consiste de personas que son terroristas, presuntos terroristas o personas que representan una amenaza para la seguridad nacional. La segunda categoría está compuesta por personas que han estipulado la deportación como parte de una disposición criminal.

El Memo de Pekoske también instruye al DHS que durante el período de 100 días que comienza el 1 de febrero de 2021, cualquier acción tomada por el DHS que se permitiría fuera de la moratoria de deportación sea consistente con la prioridad de aprehender y expulsar inmigrantes solo en las siguientes categorías: (a) terroristas, presuntos terroristas o personas que representan una amenaza para la seguridad nacional; (b) individuales que cruzaron la frontera después del día 1 de noviembre 2020; y (c) no-ciudadanos que hayan cometido delitos graves según lo definido por la ley de inmigración.

La moratoria afectara a la gran mayoría de los inmigrantes en los Estados Unidos. En cambio, nosotros advertimos a los inmigrantes que han tenido contacto con el sistema de justicia criminal que determinen si podrían haber estipulado la deportación como parte de una disposición criminal. Una estipulación de remoción como parte de una disposición criminal descalifica a una persona de la elegibilidad para la moratoria de deportación. Inmigrantes que hayan tenido contacto con el sistema de justicia criminal y están preocupados de la deportación son bienvenidos a llamarnos para obtener ayuda para tomar esta determinación.

Con limitadas excepciones, el Memo de Pekoske proporciona un respiro que tanto necesita la comunidad inmigrante que durante los últimos años se han despertado y se han dado cuenta este día puede ser el último aquí. Celebramos la publicación del memorando y esperamos con interés las reformas que se están llevando a cabo en el DHS.

Puede encontrar el texto completo del Memo de Pekoskie en: https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/21_0120_enforcement-memo_signed.pdf

Our Call to the Biden Administration on Inauguration Day

In his speech “The Other America,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. condemns consequences of a divided and inequitable society built from a long, tiring, and terrifying history of white supremacy and calls us to make “America one nation, Indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” We have been given a precious and urgent moment to do so, which begins today, Inauguration Day. Time cannot resolve the divides in our nation, action must be taken now. The staff at Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy urges the Biden Administration and our congressional leaders to pass and enforce legislation that brings us closer to “justice for all.” 

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have organized one of the most diverse executive cabinets that this country has had the privilege to know. We applaud their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and hope that this commitment influences and follows throughout the administration’s programs.  

Promises made in the campaign, such as upholding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), preserving family unity at the border, upholding the Affordable Care Act, reinvigorating consumer financial protections, providing support for families, and enhancing our pandemic relief efforts must become a reality. We acknowledge President Biden’s American Rescue Plan as a noble step toward combatting the current health and economic crises our country faces. However, we are far from the end of the COVID-19 pandemic and even further from a united, equitable, and just country.  

Focusing on these issues at the local, state and federal level will enable us to capture King’s and our own vision of “one America.” Through our work, we will continue to fight for the very things King advocated for in his speech: economic justice, the right to safe and affordable housing, quality education, access to healthcare, and racial equity. May today be the start of a stark shift in American politics and a continuance of our country’s reckoning with its past and steps toward true, genuine equality. 

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s Anti-Racist Reading List

At Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, we believe that ALL people should have access to legal assistance and resources that ensure stability and promote opportunity. We fight for equal justice under the law every day. Racial justice and equity are inherent to this work. 

During the Black Lives Matter protests over last summer, The Advocacy Center staff compiled a list of books, articles, and podcast that had contributed to our own learning of anti-racism, racial oppression, and inequities in the United States. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr., we would like to share that list with you so that as a community we can continue our own education. Today is a day of reflection on how far we have come and how much further we have to go to reach true equality in our nation.

Articles:

Maintaining Professionalism In The Age of Black Death Is….A Lot”  by Shenequa Golding 

The 1619 Project (New York Times) 

Lynch Law in All its Phases” by Ida B. Wells

The Master’s Tools will Never Dismantle the Master’s House” by Audre Lord

The Combahee River Collective Statement

Performative Allyship Is Deadly (Here’s What to Do Instead)” by Holiday Phillips 

Books

“White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism” by Robin DiAngelo 

“How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi 

“Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do” by Jennifer L. Eberhardt  

“Raising White Kids” by Jennifer Harvey  

“So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo  

“The Black and the Blue: A Cop Reveals the Crimes, Racism, and Injustice in America’s Law Enforcement” by Matthew Horace and Ron Harris  

“Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” by Bryan Stevenson 

“The Fire Next Time” by James Baldwin 

“Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race” by Reni Eddo-Lodge 

“They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, And A New Era In America’s Racial Justice Movement” by Wesley Lowery 

“Hood Feminism: Notes From The Women That The Movement Forgot” by Mikki Kendall 

“Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism” by bell hooks 

“Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People” by Ben Crump 

“From Slavery To Freedom: A History of African Americans” by John Hope Franklin  

“The Third Reconstruction: How a Moral Movement Is Overcoming the Politics of Division and Fear” by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and William Barber II 

“Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates 

“Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi 

“The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander 

“Woman, Race and Class” by Angela Davis  

Are Prisons Obsolete?” by Angela Davis 

“The Color of Law: The Forgotten History of How our Government Segregated America” by Richard Rothstein 

“Scenes of Subjection” by Saidiya Hartman 

“When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir” by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele 

“Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Every Day Resistance in the Plantation south” by Stephanie Camp

“Counting Descent” by Clint Smith

For kids: 

“The Colors of Us” by Karen Katz 

“Let’s Talk About Race” by Julius Lester 

“The Skin I’m In: A First Look at Racism” by Pat Thomas 

Sesame Street’s “We’re Different, We’re the Same” by Bobbi Jane Kates 

“Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story about Racial Injustice” by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard 

“I Am Enough” by Grace Byers 

“Happy in Our Skin” by Fran Manushkin and Lauren Tobia 

“Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement” by Carole Boston Weatherford and Ekua Holmes 

“Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America” by Jennifer Harvey 

“Daddy Why Am I Brown?: A healthy conversation about skin color and family” by Bedford F. Palmer 

“A Terrible Thing Happened” by Margaret Holmes 

“Antiracist Baby” by Ibram X. Kendi 

For teens:  

“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas 

“Harbor Me” by Jacqueline Woodson 

“This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do The Work” by Tiffany Jewell and Aurelia Durand 

“Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson 

“Dear White People” by Justin Simien 

The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead 

Statement on Wednesday’s Insurrection at the Capitol

From our executive director, Ken Schorr:

Politics profoundly affects our work and our ability to receive fair treatment, adequate income, and needed services for our clients. While I usually avoid discussing partisan politics in my role in our organization, it is imperative to talk about politics in times like these. We have seen an extraordinary display of American politics this week.

The Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy is, as its name says, a legal advocacy organization. We use our training and skills as lawyers and legal advocates to get our clients what they are due according to the law. We believe to our core in the Rule of Law. Justice lives here, for everyone.

On Wednesday, a violent mob assaulted and vandalized the Capitol Building, during Congressional proceedings, for the purpose of disrupting the counting of electoral college votes to certify the results of the Presidential election. This is a horrifying event that fundamentally contradicts the Rule of Law.

Law enforcement met this crowd of mostly white extremists in a civil manner compared to recent police treatment of thousands of diverse, peaceful protestors calling for racial justice and fair treatment. The stark contrast shows deep institutional racism in our society and illustrates the importance of our work for racial equity and justice.

There must be consequences for this mob and its instigators to reinforce the principle that this is a nation of laws, that apply to everyone, to our clients who are often disfavored but for the law, and to the powerful and favored, who are often excused from compliance or consequences.

The effort to subvert the electoral college count was based on the unsupported assertion that there was widespread election fraud which was repeatedly exposed as untrue in the results of scores of lawsuits filed to overturn election results. This follows the persistent lie that there is widespread voter fraud, as an argument to support extensive and relentless voter suppression efforts, most of which is racially focused, as one court said, to “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” We must continue to work to expose and root out these acts of racism as we elect our leaders.

Last, but not least, the State of Georgia, once in the core of the Confederacy, elected two US Senators on Tuesday. One is Raphael Warnock, a Black minister from the Church formerly pastored by Martin Luther King. The other is Jon Ossoff, a young Jewish journalist, the youngest person elected to the Senate in 40 years. I share this result not as a comment on the party they represent, but as an embrace of diversity and inclusion that is a hopeful sign of change.

Welcome to 2021, a new year.

How to Claim the Recovery Rebate Credit: FAQs

In late December, lawmakers passed a coronavirus relief package that provides essential economic relief for millions of workers and people with low incomes. One component of the package is a second round of economic stimulus payments. Additionally, we have general FAQs regarding the payment, “Mixed-Immigration Status Families and the Stimulus Payment,” and “Distribution of the Second Stimulus Payment.”

What is the Recovery Rebate Credit?

If you are eligible and don’t receive your first or second stimulus payment or the full amount of your payment, you can claim it when you file your 2020 tax return in early 2021. The IRS usually begins to accept returns in late January. This year, the tax form will include a section for filers to claim missed stimulus payments as a Recovery Rebate Credit.

Eligible individuals can claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 Form 1040 or 1040-SR. These forms can also be used by people who are not normally required to file tax returns but are eligible for the credit.

How do I find the stimulus payment amount I received? Refer to your Notice 1444 for the payment amount you were issued, before any offsets. You’ll need to this information to determine the amount to include on the worksheet that will be included in the 2020 Instructions for Form 1040 and 1040-SR and when completing the Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR.

Who Qualifies for the Recovery Rebate Credit? The Recovery Rebate Credit is figured like the first and second stimulus payments, except that the credit eligibility and the credit amount are based on the tax year 2020 information shown on the 2020 tax return filed in 2021.

Generally, you are eligible to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit, if you were a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident alien in 2020, are not a dependent of another taxpayer for tax year 2020 and have a Social Security number valid for employment that is issued before the due date of your 2020 tax return (including extensions).

You can take the Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 tax return for any recovery rebate amount that is more than the stimulus payment you received in 2020 and early 2021.

Distribution of the Second Stimulus Payment: FAQs

In late December, lawmakers passed a coronavirus relief package that provides essential economic relief for millions of workers and people with low incomes. One component of the package is a second round of economic stimulus payments. See below for FAQs regarding distribution of the second stimulus payment. Additionally, we have general FAQs regarding the payment, “Mixed-Immigration Status Families and the Stimulus Payment,” and “How to Claim the Recovery Rebate Credit.”

When will the IRS make the second stimulus payments?

The IRS will send the second stimulus payments to taxpayers through January 15th.

Will I receive a letter or notice from the IRS about my second stimulus payment?

Yes, the IRS will issue a notice, or letter, about the second stimulus payment. Please keep your notice, formally called Notice 1444-B, with your tax records. You will need it when you file your 2020 tax return.

How can I check on the status of my second stimulus payment?

You can use the IRS’ Get My Payment tool to check on the status of your second stimulus payment.

Will the IRS’ Get My Payment tool give me the status of my second stimulus payment?

You will be able to check the status of your first and second stimulus payments using the Get My Payment tool. The status includes the date of the payment and the method (direct deposit or mailed payment date). Mailed payments will require more processing and mailing time. As more information becomes available, the IRS will provide updates.

Some people received their first stimulus payment in multiple payments. If you received more than one payment for your first stimulus payment, the Get My Payment tool will show you only the most recent payment information.

I’m having trouble accessing the Get My Payment tool.

Some people visiting the site may get a “please wait” or error message due to the high volumes coming in. The “please wait” message is a normal part of the site’s operation. The IRS encourages people to check back later. Also, there is a limit to the number of times people can access Get My Payment each day. When people reach the maximum number of accesses, Get My Payment will inform them they will need to check back the following day.

I didn’t receive a direct deposit yet. Will I get a second Economic Impact Payment?

Maybe. IRS updated Get My Payment tool (GMP) for individuals who are receiving the second stimulus payment on January 5, 2021. If you checked GMP on or after January 5 then:

  • If GMP reflects a direct deposit date and partial account information, then your payment is deposited there.
  • If GMP reflects a date your payment was mailed, it may take up to 3 – 4 weeks for you to receive the payment. Watch your mail carefully for a check or debit card.
  • If GMP shows “Payment Status #2 – Not Available,” then you will not receive a second Economic Impact Payment and instead you need to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 Tax Return.

Because of the speed at which the law required the IRS to issue the second round of stimulus payments, some payments may have been sent to an account that may be closed or, is or no longer active, or unfamiliar. By law, the financial institution must return the payment to the IRS; they cannot hold and issue the payment to an individual when the account is no longer active. If Get My Payment shows “Payment Status #2 – Not Available” you will not receive a second EIP. (You will need to claim it on your 2020 tax return if you are eligible.)   

What if I have a different bank account than I had on my 2019 tax return? What should I do?

If the second stimulus payment was sent to an account that is closed or is no longer active the financial institution must, by law, return the payment to the IRS, they cannot hold and issue the payment to an individual when the account is no longer active. The IRS advises people that if they don’t receive the full amount of their stimulus payment, they should file their 2020 tax return electronically and claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on their tax return to get their payment and any refund as quickly as possible.

Why can’t the IRS reissue the second stimulus payment to me?

The IRS is working to deliver the second stimulus payment quickly, as required by law, while still preparing for the upcoming 2021 tax filing season. Due to the compressed timeline, the IRS is unable to reissue and mail checks and instead encourages people to file their 2020 tax return electronically to claim and receive the Recovery Rebate Credit quickly as possible.

Can I call the IRS, software company or bank to resolve issues with my Economic Impact Payment?

People should visit IRS.gov for the most current information on the second round of stimulus payments rather than calling the agency or their financial institutions or tax software providers. IRS phone assistors do not have additional information beyond what’s available on IRS.gov.

Mixed-Immigration Status Families and the Stimulus Payment: FAQs

In late December, lawmakers passed a coronavirus relief package that provides essential economic relief for millions of workers and people with low incomes. One component of the package is a second round of economic stimulus payments. See below for FAQs regarding distribution of the second stimulus payment. Additionally, we have general FAQs regarding the payment, “Distribution of the Second Stimulus Payment,” and “How to Claim the Recovery Rebate Credit.

I filed my 2019 tax return as married filing jointly and I have a Social Security number valid for employment while my spouse has an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), am I eligible for the second stimulus payment?

You are eligible for a second stimulus payment for yourself and any dependents you claimed who also have Social Security numbers valid for employment, but not for your spouse. (Mixed-status families who did not receive the first stimulus payment due to the previous restrictions on spouses of people filing with ITINs will now be eligible to get that payment retroactively when they file their 2020 tax return. See discussion below.)

I filed my 2019 tax return as married filing jointly and both my spouse and I have ITINs, am I eligible for the second stimulus payment for my dependents who have Social Security numbers valid for employment?

No, you are not eligible for a second stimulus payment for yourself, your spouse, or your dependents. 

I have an ITIN and filed my 2019 tax return as single, am I eligible for the second stimulus payment?

No, you are not eligible for the second stimulus payment.

I have an ITIN and filed my 2019 tax return as Head of Household, am I eligible for the second stimulus payment?

No, you are not eligible for the second stimulus payment. Nor are you eligible for the second stimulus payment for any dependents you claimed, even those dependents with Social Security numbers valid for employment.

Do I qualify for the payment if I’m a resident alien?

A person who’s a qualifying resident alien with a Social Security number valid for employment is eligible for the second stimulus payment only if he or she is a qualifying resident alien in 2020 and may not be claimed as a dependent of another taxpayer.  A nonresident alien in 2020 isn’t eligible for the second stimulus payment. An alien who received a payment but isn’t a qualifying resident alien for 2020 should return the payment to the IRS.

Questions about Mixed Status families and the Economic Impact Payments? Contact a tax advocate at 980-202-7329.

COVID Relief Act $600 Stimulus Payments: General FAQs

*Originally posted on Dec. 30th, 2020. Updated Jan. 8th, 2021*

In late December, lawmakers passed a coronavirus relief package that provides essential economic relief for millions of workers and people with low incomes. One component of the package is a second round of economic stimulus payments. See below for general FAQs regarding the payment. Additionally, we have FAQs regarding “Mixed-Immigration Status Families and the Stimulus Payment,” “Distribution of the Second Stimulus Payment,” and “How to Claim the Recovery Rebate Credit.”

Who is eligible for the second stimulus payment?

Generally, if you’re a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident alien, you may be eligible for $600 ($1,200 for a joint return), plus $600 for each qualifying child, if you (and your spouse if filing a joint return) aren’t a dependent of another taxpayer on a 2019 tax return, have a social security number (SSN) valid for employment (see exception when married filing joint) and your adjusted gross income (AGI) does not exceed:

  • $150,000 if married and filing a joint return or if filing as a qualifying widow or widower;
  • $112,500 if filing as head of household; or
  • $75,000 for eligible individuals using any other filing status
  • Your payment will be reduced by 5% of the amount by which your AGI exceeds the applicable threshold above.

You aren’t eligible for a payment if any of the following apply to you:

  • You were claimed as a dependent on another taxpayer’s 2019 tax return (for example, a child or student who may be claimed on a parent’s tax return or a dependent parent who may be claimed on an adult child’s tax return).
  • You don’t have a Social Security number that is valid for employment issued before the due date of your 2019 tax return (including any extensions).
  • You’re a nonresident alien.
  • People who died before 2020.
  • Are an estate or trust.

What is meant by a Social Security number that is valid for employment?

A valid Social Security number for the second stimulus payment is one that is valid for employment in the United States and is issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA) before the due date of your 2019 tax return (including the filing deadline postponement to July 15 and an extension to October 15 if you requested it).

If you were a U.S. citizen when you received the Social Security number, then it’s valid for employment. If “Not Valid for Employment” is printed on your Social Security card and your immigration status has changed so that you are now a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, ask the SSA for a new Social Security card. However, if “Valid for Work Only With DHS Authorization” is printed on your Social Security card, you have the required Social Security number only if the Department of Homeland Security authorization is valid.

How much will the second stimulus payment be?

The second stimulus payment will be $600 per qualifying adult ($1,200 for married taxpayers filing a joint return) and $600 per child under 17 years old. Children who are 17 years old and older as well as other dependents are not eligible for the $600 second stimulus payment.

What do I need to do to get my payment?

No action is necessary. Your payment will be issued based on the information the IRS has on file for your 2019 tax return, the information provided by you to the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool, payment information entered on the Get My Payment tool, or information provided by a Federal Agency that issued benefits to you (Social Security Administration, Veteran Affairs, or Railroad Retirement Board). (If you don’t get a payment and you are eligible to receive one, it may be claimed as a Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 tax return.)

Will the Non-Filers tool be available if I’m not required to file and didn’t use it before November 22, 2020?

No. The Non-Filers tool is no longer available. (If you are eligible for a second stimulus payment and don’t get one, the payment may be claimed as a Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 tax return.)

What tax year will the IRS look to in determining my eligibility for the second stimulus payment?

The IRS will look to the 2019 tax year to make eligibility determinations for the second stimulus payment.

Will I need to pay the second stimulus payment back to the IRS at some point and will the payment affect my eligibility for other tax credits?

You will not need to pay the second stimulus payment back to the IRS because the payments are an advance against a new credit for tax year 2020 and these payments will not affect your eligibility for other tax credits.

I’m a college student, can I receive the $600 second stimulus payment if I can be claimed as someone else’s dependent?

You can’t receive the $600 second stimulus payment if you can be claimed as someone else’s dependent. You can be claimed as someone else’s dependent based on your relationship to the filer, your age, whether you lived with your parents for more than half of the year, and whether you were financially independent for more than half of the year, among other factors. This will affect many full-time college students under age 24. However, it’s important to review the rules, since not all college students are dependents. (People who were dependents in 2019, but not 2020, can claim both stimulus payments as a Recovery Rebate Credit when they file their 2020 tax return.)

Do I need earned income to qualify for a second stimulus payment?

You don’t need to have earned income to qualify. The second stimulus payment is available to those with little to no income. Even if you are making $0, you can still receive the full payment. The second stimulus payments phase out at higher income levels, starting at $75,000 for single filers. The phase-out rates are the same between the first and second round of payments – $5 for every $100 that you made above the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) limit – but because the second stimulus payments are smaller, some people who received a partial payment in the first round won’t get one this time.

Will the second stimulus payment affect my eligibility for public benefits?

Like other tax refunds, the second stimulus payment will not count toward eligibility for means-tested programs and will be disregarded as an asset for 12 months. This means the second stimulus payment won’t jeopardize your participation in programs including Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and public housing.

Is the second stimulus payment treated as taxable income?

No, the second stimulus payment is not considered taxable income.

Is an incarcerated individual eligible for the second stimulus payment?

Yes, individuals will not be denied a second stimulus payment solely because they are incarcerated.  An incarcerated individual may be issued a payment if all eligibility requirements are met and the individual filed a 2019 tax return that was processed by the IRS or used the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool prior to November 22, 2020. (Incarcerated individuals who don’t get a second stimulus payment and are eligible to receive one, may claim a Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 tax return. They can also claim the first stimulus payment as a Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 tax return.)

Can the second stimulus payment be intercepted?

The second stimulus payment can’t be intercepted for past-due taxes, student loans, Unemployment Insurance over-payments, or for child support that is owed (the first stimulus payment was subject to seizure for outstanding child support).

Where can I get more information?

For more information about Economic Impact Payments and the 2020 Recovery Rebate, key information will be posted on IRS.gov/eip. Later this week, you may check the status of your payment at IRS.gov/GetMyPayment. For other COVID-19-related tax relief, visit IRS.gov/Coronavirus.

New COVID-19 relief act signed. Aid extended to millions.

On December 22nd congress passed the most recent COVID-19 relief package. The act provides $908 billion dollars in aid to families, businesses, nonprofits, and states. As we learn more about the act and how the programs and funding will be implemented, we will update our website and social media accordingly. Please contact us at the appropriate numbers below if you or your family are struggling and need assistance.  

This list is not exhaustive, and the bill contains programs and funding not listed here.  

Here is what we know so far: 

Unemployment Insurance

This act extends the CARES Act’s unemployment insurance expansion through March 14th, 2021. Specifically, this act:  

  • Provides an additional $300 per week to supplement all state and federal unemployment benefits, starting after December 26, 2020 and ending March 14, 2021 through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program; 
  • Extends the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which provides continued unemployment assistance to the self-employed, freelancers, gig workers, part-time workers and other individuals in non-traditional employment. It also increases the number of weeks of PUA benefits an individual may claim, from 39 to 50; 
  • Extends the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, providing additional weeks of federally-funded benefits to workers who have exhausted their regular state unemployment benefits. It also increases the weeks of PEUC benefits an individual may claim, from 13 to 24 and; 
  • Provides full federal financing of state Shared Work programs, allowing employees who are working reduced hours to claim partial unemployment compensation, through March 14, 2021. 

For FAQs about unemployment insurance click here. Apply for unemployment at the Department of Employment Security website or call 1-888-737-0259. If you have questions regarding your application or how the new relief bill affects your unemployment benefits, call our hotline 980-256-3979 and leave a message to receive assistance in English or Spanish. 

Economic Impact Payments (Stimulus Checks) 

Critical financial support in the form of one-time direct payments of $600 is being made available for individuals making up to $75,000 and $1,200 for couples making up to $150,000, as well as an extra $600 per eligible child dependent. We do not know if this amount will be increased. This is the same eligibility as the original $1,200 stimulus payment, but also expands these direct payments to mixed-status households, ensuring that millions of immigrant families across the U.S. get access to this relief. 

These payments will likely be distributed in a similar way as the $1,200 payments through direct deposit or check. Stay up to date with this information on the IRS website

Those who did not previously receive the original $1,200 stimulus check or received the incorrect amount may be able to receive it through a Recovery Rebate Credit when filing you 2020 tax return. Learn more here. 

If you have questions about the $600 economic impact payments or the recovery rebate credit, contact a tax advocate at: 980-202-7329  

Emergency Rental and Utility Assistance 

This act extends the CDC Eviction Moratorium through January 31st, 2021. Read more on how you can use the moratorium to prevent eviction here. 

An additional $25 billion will be distributed to existing local housing agencies that can best distribute these funds on behalf of tenants. It is unclear what organizations or programs this funding will go toward but can be used to pay past due rent, future rent payments and utility and energy expenses.  

The act provides $638 million to assist low-income families with drinking water and wastewater utility bills. This money will also be distributed via state and tribal governments. You can apply for utility assistance through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program or RAMP Charlotte. 

Nutritional and Food Assistance 

Millions of families across the country are struggling to put food on the table. This act addressed food insecurity by: 

  • Increasing monthly Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for the next six months beginning January 1st, 2021 through June 30th, 2021. Unless there are other supplements, this increase will be added to the current maximum eligible monthly amount per family size;  
  • Excluding Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) from being counted as income for calculating eligibility and amount of SNAP benefits; 
  • Extending SNAP eligibility to college students who are eligible for a federal or state work study program or have an expected family contribution of $0 and; 
  • Improves the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (PEBT) program to school-age children and expands the program for children younger than six years old.  

If you need assistance with applying for SNAP, PEBT, or other public benefits, contact our Family Support and Healthcare Unit at 704-376-1600. 

Bankruptcy 

The act provides that consumers in Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases will not be denied a discharge if they miss 3 or fewer mortgage payments because of a financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to COVID–19. Consumers can have utility service maintained or restored after filing bankruptcy without paying a deposit. Also, consumers cannot be denied a mortgage forbearance under the CARES Act if they have filed bankruptcy or received a bankruptcy discharge.